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Difference, diversity and discrimination: migrant workers in health and hospitality Professor Linda McDowell University of Oxford Dr. Adina Batnitzky,

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Presentation on theme: "Difference, diversity and discrimination: migrant workers in health and hospitality Professor Linda McDowell University of Oxford Dr. Adina Batnitzky,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Difference, diversity and discrimination: migrant workers in health and hospitality Professor Linda McDowell University of Oxford Dr. Adina Batnitzky, University of Austin Texas Dr. Sarah Dyer, University of Manchester Dr. Jane Dyson, University of Oxford

2 Migrant workers in London in 2006 I am on a temporary contract. I have to work when they say. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening. I havent got National Insurance card yet... This hotel, somebody tell me, is fifth hotel in profit but last in salary (Peter, Hungarian, temporary chef). I work for an agency; I have a fixed contract for a year. I clean rooms and the public areas, usually on the evening shift. I work when they say. Its different each week. This few days, I work Monday, one day I was off, then I was in three days in a row, but tomorrow I am off (Vera, hotel cleaner, Bulgarian). I was recruited through an agency in Boston. I decided to come here because I wanted to travel in Europe before settling to my career back home. I signed a contract for one year, but my work permit and visa are for five so I could stay longer, I suppose. (Meg, US, occupational therapist, NHS).

3 Aims of the research To explore how a diverse migrant labour force is – assembled – segmented – maintained – how hierarchies of difference and desirability/suitability for different types of servicing jobs within the migrant labour force are produced and maintained, creating inequalities in the division of labour – Case studies in hotel and hospital

4 Work we have been doing Contributions to theoretical debates: Economic change and restructuring; migrant divisions of labour Construction of workplace identity; intersectionality: eligibility for different types of jobs: gender, ethnicity, nationality and whiteness Working bodies: Interactive employment at bottom end of the labour market; emotional work, body work, dirty work Contributions to policy debates Migration: size, shape, status, effects (remittances etc) Globalisation/transnationalism, effects of A8 Precariousness/agency employment/workers rights Gender equality/racial discrimination

5 Structure of argument today: how diversity and difference is shaping divisions of labour, creating greater competition between workers Changing nature of labour market: significance of diversity Service sector growth Transnational migration The case study Agency workers Globalised workers in local employment: a new migrant division of labour? Implications

6 Context of the research Growth in the service sector – feminisation, older workers, students etc, and increasing polarisation of the labour market: greater diversity in labour force New migrants: also greater diversity: from postcolonial to transnational, greater variety in legal status and reasons for migration: increases labour force diversity (and see next slide) Rise of precarious work; casual contracts, part-time and multiple job holding: greater diversity in employment relation, largely negative for workers Use of agency and sub-contract labour is expanding in flexible labour markets: different legal relationship to end employer; makes workplace resistance and solidarity difficult Increasing spatial reach of agencies: new international division of labour in most local of servicing work where co-presence and face to face contact is essential Nature of interactive work: body work so personal characteristics (gender, skin colour, language) are crucial: intersectionality and inequality

7 Fortunate coincidences during the projects life Expansion of EU in 2004 Interest in migration as political and policy issue ( Ipsos-Mori -33% of population state most significant issue in UK in 2009: only outweighed by economy; survey by German Marshall Fund 2009 found British more xenophobic than rest of EU members ) Economic growth and decline Rise of right wing politics/interest in whiteness

8 A8 migration from 2004 EU accession states May 2004: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, plus Cyrus and Malta EU accession states January 2007: Bulgaria and Romania Different rights New points based system - growing significance of whiteness

9 Extent of immigration during research period Government estimates: 5-15,000 Probable entrants between 600,000 and a million No exit data WRS (not required after a year of continuous employment) 656,395 between May 2004 – June 2007 (of whom 430,395 Polish) Age, gender and sex: 60% A8 migrants young and single

10 What we did Case study of public and private sector organisation with reliance on migrant labour force and use of agencies 60 interviews in each organisation – public sector WCH; private BI Interviews with personnel Interviews with owners/managers of 10 agencies

11 Why hotels and hospitals Hotels and catering – 4 th largest employer of migrant workers; 40% of all employees have non-standard contracts, usually though an agency, mainly bottom end NHS – also large employer of both migrant workers and contract and agency employers at both top and bottom end of labour force

12 Bellman International (BI) and West Central Hospital (WCH) Both in West London – upmarket hotel chain, teaching hospital The local labour market was (and still is though less so) buoyant and skill shortages are an issue for both workplaces, which experience high levels of labour turnover in most categories of employment. According to WCHs assessment of local competition in 2006: The West London labour market is probably the most competitive within London, with a highly mobile workforce, relatively low levels of unemployment (3.6% in 2006 when we started interviewing) compared to 4.6 for London, competition from blue chip companies located along the A4, Thames Valley IT companies and Heathrow Airport. The locality is also characterised by a significant minority population (accounting for almost a third of the total population of the London Borough of Hounslow) in which people of Asian origin are the largest single minority group, many of whom have lived in the UK for several decades.

13 Focus of argument today on agency workers Agency workers as sub-set of most exploited (EU Directive; CBI/TUC agreement May 2008 (after 12 weeks employment); to be introduced from 2011: (in Queens Speech 2009)) Explore divisions of labour within migrant population: gender and other divisions Implications for competition with local workers especially BME workers

14 Coincidence of precarious work and migration As feminists have long insisted jobs are not neutral slots to be filled but constructed to reflect the social characteristics of labour available/assembled and so the presence of migrants and their vulnerability influences labour markets (Bauder 2007 p 4). In March 2007, John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), argued: the only extra jobs at present [in the UK economy] are for temporary staff and the self-employed. This growth in contract working is almost certainly a reflection of the increased supply of migrant workers from Central and Eastern Europe (quoted by Seager 2007 p 32). Has recession made this worse? Increase in part-time and casual work; fall in in-migration?


16 Precarious work and agency employment What is precarious work: includes agency workers, temporary and fixed term contracts, seasonal workers, casual workers: about 6% of all UK workers in Labour Force Survey Agency work: not employed by the end user of labour but by an intermediary; UK not yet signed EU Agency Directive How do agencies operate: may supply warm bodies or a service; not regulated; end-use employer evades employment rights (BMW – sacked 850 agency workers in 2008 with an hours notice); agencies select, employ and sack workers. Provide a buffer stock of workers to meet peak and troughs in demand Polarisation among agencies: professional staffing agencies/global reach, skilled workers; local agencies, warm bodies for low skilled work where most of the transactions are local ones – connecting local job seekers to local employers (Peck et al 2005; p 23): is this always so?

17 Comparing BI and WCH BI: employed in total 80 direct employees and 120 agency workers and both groups consisted almost entirely of migrants. Indeed, only three BI employees were UK-born. WCH: total employment more difficult to ascertain at WCH, as services such as catering and cleaning are contracted out to a major international organisation – Greenspan (a pseudonym) - that employs both agency workers and direct temporary contract workers: about 500 in total. The hospital itself employs almost 2000 workers of whom 30% are non-British born and a similar proportion (overlapping but not completely coincident groups) are agency or contract employees. So between them capture range and complexity of precarious/agency employment

18 Assembling a precarious labour force in diverse ways WCH: subcontracting of a service: uses Greenspan (a multi-national firm) to provide services (cleaning and security): Greenspan uses London-based agencies to recruit contract employees; had long-standing relationship with agencies BI: uses mix of local and international employment agencies to recruit warm bodies for specific vacancies (room attendants, waiters etc). Often changed agencies.

19 Agency workers at WCH and BI Total number in our survey: 22 at BI and 23 at WCH Warm bodies: 20 at BI and 17 at WCH in bottom end catering, cleaning, security etc; (6 in professional jobs: not included in this analysis) 16 different nations represented: 9 out of 20 at BI from Eastern Europe (mainly A8) only one from 17 at WCH 10 interviews with the owners and/or managers of seven employment agencies in Greater London, all of whom had been involved in recruiting the workers in our survey. Also interviews with a representative of Greenspan and a Human Resources employee at both BI and at WCH. BI recruits bodies through agency; WCH buys a service from Greenspan

20 The comparison Older post-colonial labour force at WCH: trapped in precarious work? New migrant labour force at BI: rung on the occupational ladder?

21 International divisions of labour: WCH WCH reflects older patterns – Black workers, small number of new commonwealth (eg India, Sri Lanka) but more also from Afghanistan, Ghana, Malaysia, Algeria and Turkey; only one from A8 country; majority here to stay; lower rates of labour turnover; older and less well educated workers; women in catering and cleaning though some men too, male porters; either hold or aiming for British citizenship; anxious to hold onto what seen as a good job and to transfer into direct NHS labour force. Low paid and trapped in place (Castells) by high rents/house prices; high transport costs as well as desire to stay

22 Recruiting for WCH and Greenspan Claire, an employee of an agency specialising in providing workers for catering and cleaning in hospitals told us that WCH and the sub-contractor Greenspan used to recruit, from an older, long-standing migrant population in the locality, predominantly British Asian women most of whom had come to Britain between 1968 and the mid 1970s but that: these ladies are in their late 60s now, so they have been here quite a long time. On her books now there are more recent migrants including Chinese, Afro-Caribbean (sic), Portuguese, Polish, Irish – this is where it all starts to change, and now definitely with the East Europeans, thats definitely created a big change. There are more East Europeans – Latvians, Lithuanians but : The level of English of East Europeans is quite low and thats one of our biggest issues when it comes to recruitment. A lot of them could barely speak any English [on arrival]. What we try to do is to make sure that there is a basic level [before placing them].

23 Migrants in WCH I am from Afghanistan. I came through India and Russia and I dont know where else. It took many months and I was not sure where I was at first (Hafiz from Afghanistan, initially an asylum seeker; ward cleaner (female job?)). Im simply like cover, weekend cover, thats what they say and my contract is like that. I can tell them I dont want to work. I dont have to give them any notice, but they can also terminate my contract at any time (Felix, Ghanaian, overstayed a student visa; as well as working for Greenspan/WHC in security (racialised masculine employment?) also did escort duties for Prison Service)

24 International divisions of labour: BI BI: new pattern; East European and A8 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia) migrants significant (all but four); well educated, rapid turnover; 8 recruited in own country, 12 in London but often by own nationality agency e.g. Polish and Bulgarian-owned agencies; legal status often problematic; here to improve English and get better jobs. Room attendants all women, kitchen staff almost all male. Disadvantaged by language, advantaged by skin colour, age and education. Intend to be spatially and socially mobile: space of flows (Castells) (although also low paid and so temporarily trapped in place in London)

25 Young migrants in BI It was a quick decision, I had a call from London [from a Polish-owned employment agency],.... I bought a one way ticket [from Warsaw]... it was very cheap, but it was a bus, so 34 hours.... [I arrived] Saturday morning. I had to go to sign the contract with the agency; that was Monday, the next day I came to work. (Stanislaw Polish, previously in the army, early 20s)

26 Peter I just go to agency and then I come. I want to learn good English. But as he says later this was not always easy: You know when you are young, you want to see a lot of things so you come to London, basically don't want meeting with Hungarians. Now I dont want meeting because six, seven people working in the hotel who is Hungarian now and I am speaking more times in Hungarian than I am in English and this is not good for me. And so I have got two plans, change the workplace or go to brasserie. (26 year old Hungarian working in hotel kitchens) Some of the Polish room attendants also mentioned the disadvantage of working with co-nationals and the head of the housekeeping section the problem of Polish cliques.

27 Same old gender divisions of labour Women as care assistants and cleaners Men as door-staff, security, porters, heavy cleaning in WCH, in BI porters, waiters and kitchen staff Relies on stereotypical characteristics of femininity and masculinity All on minimum wage and few job-related benefits

28 Tatiana 26 year old Russian woman who paid a Russian agency to come to London - $3000. High school educated and wants to train as a nursery school teacher Asked why she came to London: I would like to improve my English, and some money... I go to Russian agency in London. I went to the agency in Hammersmith and they explained. My first job is to pack chicken. (also found BI job through an agency). My visa finished, so I should back... I am tired too and homesick so I return soon.

29 Spatial divisions of labour: local jobs/global workers The jobs are local in a threefold way: First, they are local in the sense of providing an immediate embodied service to a set of clients/customers/patients in west London; Secondly, they are local in the sense that the potential workers constitute an immediately available labour force, assembled by staffing agencies at minimum costs to end-user employers, requiring no specialist knowledge, skills or training to able to undertaken the required work tasks almost instantly on recruitment; Thirdly, they are local jobs in the sense that their low pay means that once in the UK, economic migrants must live close to work/are recruited locally (if change jobs).

30 Connections across space: global workers The potential and actual labour force is a trans-national one. New and more established economic migrants – some with no skills and few options, and others with an inadequate command of English are assembled by employment agencies to staff the basic services that keep hospitals running and hotels able to sell a service. The agencies that provided workers for BI and for WCH (indirectly though Greenspan) ranged from small, almost informal agencies to large multinational firms that are part of the increasing internationalisation of service provision. But both types of agency recruit from the growing international and increasingly diverse labour force, born abroad and now working in Greater London. Even the smallest, informal London-based agencies utilised a network of trans-European, and often trans-national, contacts to mobilise applicants. Thus, internationalization is not only a feature of the growth of producer services and their global demand for labour, but is also significant in the production of consumer services

31 Discussion Migrant labour market segmentation neither starts nor finishes in the local labour market where it occurs Thus the most local of work (body/caring labour) in which embodied characteristics are significant (the geography closest in: Adrienne Rich) is organised across multiple scales Consequences for workers/EO policies, labour market policy. – bodies as products – Hierarchy of desirability – insecurity – Flexibility – Protection – Competition with local and BME workers (British jobs for British workers) Implications for managed migration policies – citizenship – Regulations/points-based scheme – designed in 2006 and now being phased in – GATS Basis of claims: as women, as workers (labour market/EO policies), or as individuals (human rights)? And so basis of organisation – workplace or locality (or even transnational – Greenspan for eg a multinational): who speaks for workers – Trade Union Movements, other organisations such as London Citizens?

32 Publications from the project This presentation draws on: McDowell, L, Batnitzky, A and Dyer, S 2008 Internationalization and the spaces of temporary labour British Journal of Industrial Relations 46, 4, pp 750-770 and McDowell, L, Batnitzky, A and Dyer, S 2009 Precarious work and economic migration International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33,1, pp 3-25 Other publications form the project include McDowell, L, Batnitzky, A and Dyer, S 2007 Division, segmentation and interpellation: the embodied labours of migrant workers Economic Geography 82,1, 1-26 Batnitzky, A, McDowell, L and Dyer, S 2008 A middle class global mobility: The working lives of Indian men in a west London hotel, Global Networks 8, 1 pp 51-70 Batnitzky, A, McDowell, L and Dyer, S 2009 Flexible and strategic masculinities: the working lives and gendered identities of male migrants in London Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35, 8 pp 1275-93 Dyer, S, McDowell, L and Batnitzky, A 2008 Emotional labour/body work: the caring labours of migrants in the UK's National Health Service Geoforum39, pp 2030-38

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