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Multi-Ethnic Workforces in the Food Manufacturing Sector Benjamin Hopkins Darlithydd mewn Rheoli Adnoddau Dynol/Lecturer in Human Resource Management Ysgol.

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Presentation on theme: "Multi-Ethnic Workforces in the Food Manufacturing Sector Benjamin Hopkins Darlithydd mewn Rheoli Adnoddau Dynol/Lecturer in Human Resource Management Ysgol."— Presentation transcript:

1 Multi-Ethnic Workforces in the Food Manufacturing Sector Benjamin Hopkins Darlithydd mewn Rheoli Adnoddau Dynol/Lecturer in Human Resource Management Ysgol Rheolaeth a Busnes/School of Management and Business Prifysgol Aberystwyth/Aberystwyth University

2 Overview Context Methodology Why migrants are taking these jobs Informal Hierarchies Managers UK workers Migrant Workers Discussion

3 Context Skills Large proportion of food processing roles are very low skilled Short induction, little further skills training required Difficulties in career progression Flattening of formal hierarchies Contractual Status Temporary work used in food processing eg Norkies in Burton Increased power of consolidated supermarkets Food processors using agency workers

4 Informal Hierarchies Low skilled jobs require very little training No hierarchy under line leader position Smith (1994) – in the absence of formal hierarchies, informal hierarchies will form Can be based on factors such as contractual status BUT a further consequence of short training requirement is that it attracts migrant workers who can be shown jobs How do informal hierarchies form in this diverse workforce?

5 Methodology 5 Case Study Companies ChocCo BeerCo ReadyCo SpiceCo TurkeyCo 88 interviews Observational data

6 Why are migrants taking these jobs? Context of A8 expansion Get a job through an agency Avoiding interview in English Can get work quickly Have downgraded on arrival in the UK But can still get higher wages than in home country Stepping stone into UK labour market Aiming to improve English language skills Also to get qualifications recognised by UK employers Can then move into jobs that better suit their skill set

7 Only problem is with English. I have master of economy my degree, and I work still go up, up, up, up, but I am lazy because Im too tired to go to college and learn English. My wife is learning in college. Me, I would like but I am too lazy, but I know I must because for me is better. Polish Line Leader, ReadyCo

8 Informal Hierarchies Official Differing Treatment for Agency Workers Length of contract Wages Benefits – even apples… PPE Coincidence of ethnicity and agency status

9 Informal Hierarchies Unofficial Differing Treatment Allow permanent workers to manage temporary staff Different tasks eg racking at ReadyCo Groups formed at breaktime eg canteen tables Differing managerial views to agency and migrant workers Investigate views of UK managers UK workers Migrant/immigrant workers

10 Managers

11 Have differing views of: UK workers EU migrants (mainly agency) Middle Eastern/Asian immigrants (mainly agency)

12 Managers UK workers seen as: Less affected by language barrier Able to take on more tasks eg deliveries as they can speak English Able to train newcomers, so informally taking on some roles of managers Standards improved by incoming EU migrants, particularly by those from the A8 countries

13 Four and five years ago people from the agency were drug addicts who didn't want to work, but now you get someone from the agency and they will be really good. All the Poles have made quite a lot of difference, they are really highly motivated, because they have come here to earn money. I think they have moved the benchmark up of what agencies can offer, because all the indigenous English people have had to step up a bit as well. So in the past the people you got coming in were just pathetic, but now whoever you get in from an agency are generally quite good. British Manager, SpiceCo

14 Managers EU migrants seen as: Hard working Prepared to work longer hours Despite initial reservations Criticisms: From A8 managers Language barrier

15 I was a supervisor at the time when we first started getting Portuguese people in, and I got twenty-seven in, and I was dreading it with the language barrier. They told me I was getting these Portuguese people in and I came through the door and I was a bit apprehensive, but after a couple of days I thought How superb. You had to tell them to go to break. It was not I have not been for my tea break or When can I swap? They didnt complain about anything and I had to tell them to go to break, and I had to tell them to go home, and I found that such a culture shock. British Operations Manager, TurkeyCo

16 Having an all Polish team everyone said How are you going to do? but they are brilliant…It has just been good, they are a really good team. British Manager, ReadyCo

17 I am not racist or anything, I am half-caste myself, my mum is white and my dad is Pakistani, but these Polish people that work here, a lot of them speak very good English, but a lot of them have just come over and they are learning. They have got jobs here but when you explain to them something after 10 hours you get pissed off because they don't understand. British Manager, ReadyCo

18 It is the same with Scotland, turnips and swedes and parsnips are all the same thing there, they call them neeps or something. Here we have a turnip, a swede and a parsnip. Once they understand that they are three different components that do different things we are fine. British Manager, ReadyCo

19 Now we have a lot of Polish people here, and three years ago they came here very energetic, the Polish people want to work because they know they get a chance and they have to do everything the best that they can. Now they come very lazy people because they are coming because of their family or they are coming because of somebody else and they know that if they lose this job they can find another job, and they don't care about the job now. Polish Manager, ReadyCo

20 Managers Middle Eastern/Asian immigrants seen as: More distant Severe language issues, can only take on tasks that can be visibly shown Cultural differences

21 I m not racist in any way or anything, but you know when its busy and I walk down from the car park, I walk in and not one person s speaking English, I feel uncomfortable when I come into work. And so that s how it makes you feel. And I ve spoken to a couple of our guys who ve been here a long time, and they say when they go into the changing area, again, you know, only jokingly, and they don t mean nothing by it but they ll say God, its like we re on holiday. Its like we re in Mecca. There s people praying and all sorts on the floor. They re not doing it in a nasty way, its just I feel uncomfortable. I don t feel as I m in England. British Manager, ChocCo

22 UK Workers

23 Resentment of taking low skill or temporary jobs See migrant/immigrant workers as competitors As with managers, have differing views of different groups of migrant workers Language difficulties with A8 migrants

24 We should be more entitled to the jobs before the Polish and this lot…The British people feel let down because of people coming in and taking their jobs who can't talk English. People have generally thought I can't get a job and they [migrant workers] come and go to an agency and go straight into a job. I think if you put a questionnaire out to the Brits here about what you think the worst issue is they will say all these immigrants taking our jobs… I used to read in the papers they are all coming in taking our jobs, but until I came here I didn't know. Where I used to work there was no immigrants at all. I mean Poles, not coloured people. If you didn't talk English you wouldn't get through the door. British Worker, ChocCo

25 If they are coming over I think they should know the English, it is only fair … I am not taking sides but if you can't understand someone, it is hard work isn't it?...You can get through on the basics, but sometimes when they look at you, you say Can you do that? and they go Huh ? But that is the way it is going now, and Mr Blair let them all in didn't he? British Worker, SpiceCo

26 UK Workers As with managers, feel further distanced from Middle Eastern/Asian migrants More severe language difficulties seen as impairing ability to do the job Coupled with cultural differences, so do not form friendship groups

27 What is happening with our line, everybody seems to be like, how can I say, there are different races coming on all the time. There is not a constant. I think if you want to keep a line busy and working more efficient you want the same people. British Worker, ChocCo

28 When I first started here I thought I was at [local airport], there were so many different people here. I didn't know the country was in such a bad state … If I had an Indian who talks Indian and he tells me I come from [local city] and I'm British, I joke and I say you all look the same to me. British Worker, ChocCo

29 Migrant Workers

30 Use agencies to avoid job interviews, but receive poorer treatment than permanent (mainly British) workers Formal eg wages, job security Informal eg differing tasks But hierarchies are also formed within these groups, although managers may see them as homogenous

31 There have been a few fights in my area … The biggest difference that I have seen is between Polish and Pakistanis and Indians. There is a big, big difference because the Polish are just not used to it. In Poland, from what I know from speaking to them, you don't get many Asians or Pakistanis in Poland. When they come over suddenly there are loads, and they have never really encountered it … The Polish see the Pakistanis and the Indians as quite lazy. Some of them are, but I have had to tell them a lot of the time that you can't generalise. You can't do it, you can't be racist, and a lot of them are. A lot of them are actually racist, and you talk to them about it and they will say That Pakistani whatever and they will refer to them like that. British Manager, ReadyCo

32 In this factory there are Polish people and they sit together, and I sit alone because I am different. Lithuanian Agency Worker, SpiceCo

33 The only racial issues we have are between groups of the same nationality who see differences within their own nationality that we dont see. A Portuguese person from mainland Portugal and a Portuguese person from East Timor or Madeira will see differences in their own identity, and that can cause conflict. They have a hierarchy that we dont see. British HR Manager, TurkeyCo

34 Sometimes some people, and not with Portuguese and Angola, maybe some with Cape Vertian and Angolan, but that is not me because I dont like going fighting and conflicting, I like to win money, that is my purity. But some people they dont grow up you know, in their minds, so they keep fighting every time they go to discos. They drink their mind so they fight...Two weekends ago, three girls beat one and then the police went there. The three girls work here and they beat one that works here, they are all Portuguese. Three Cape Vertian girls against one Portuguese girl, so they beat the girl. Portuguese Temporary Worker, TurkeyCo

35 Informal Hierarchies Firms create differences between staff But informal hierarchies are also formed Coincidence of contractual status and ethnicity Informal hierarchies within groups

36 Questions Comments

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