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Embodied labours: migrants in Greater Londons service sector May 2008 Linda McDowell School of Geography, University of Oxford.

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Presentation on theme: "Embodied labours: migrants in Greater Londons service sector May 2008 Linda McDowell School of Geography, University of Oxford."— Presentation transcript:

1 Embodied labours: migrants in Greater Londons service sector May 2008 Linda McDowell School of Geography, University of Oxford

2 GeNet: ESRC Gender Equality Network Theme 1: Pathways to Adult Attainment –Changing Occupational Careers of Women and MenChanging Occupational Careers of Women and Men –Biographical Agency and Developmental OutcomesBiographical Agency and Developmental Outcomes –Gendered Pathways to AdulthoodGendered Pathways to Adulthood Theme 2: Resources, Gender, Ethnic and Class Inequalities –Gender, Time Allocation and the 'Wage Gap'Gender, Time Allocation and the 'Wage Gap' –Within-household Inequalities and Public PolicyWithin-household Inequalities and Public Policy –Gender, Ethnicity, Migration and Service Employment –Class and Gender, Employment and FamilyClass and Gender, Employment and Family Theme 3: Policy Responses to Gender Inequalities –Addressing Gender Inequality through Corporate GovernanceAddressing Gender Inequality through Corporate Governance –Tackling Inequalities in Work and Care: Policy Initiatives and Actors at the EU and UK levelsTackling Inequalities in Work and Care: Policy Initiatives and Actors at the EU and UK levels

3 Aims of Project 6 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

4 Context of the research Growth in the service sector –feminisation and increasing polarisation of the labour market Rise of poor work and multiple job holding Use of agency and sub-contract labour is expanding in flexible labour markets 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 New migrants

5 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

6 Extent of immigration 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) Age, gender and sex

7 What we did Case study of public and private sector organisation with reliance on migrants 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

8 Where West London (Wills et al in East London High percentage of foreign born population, especially of Asian origin Tight job market: according to WCH report probably the most competitive in London in 2006 when we stated interviewing Teaching hospital; upmarket hotel, part of an international chain

9 Focus of argument today Agency workers as sub-set of most exploited (EU Directive; CBI/TUC deal) Their characteristics Comparison between BI and WCH Implication – divisions of labour within migrant population Competition with local workers especially BME workers

10 Why agencies matter As Peck and Theodore (2001) argued, employment agencies are thus both empirically and theoretically interesting as they are active institutional agents in the remaking of labour market norms and conventions, brokering as they do between under-employed workers on the one hand and would-be employers of contingent labour on the other, while turning a profit in the process (p 474). Agencies supply workers employed under fixed term contracts to meet changing needs, providing what Booth, Dolado and Frank (2002) et al refer to as a buffer stock (p 182) to meet changes in the operating environment, including peaks of demand.

11 Why they matter now 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 Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD 2007) Already mentioned CBI/TUC agreement

12 Types of agencies the market which agencies construct and operate within is polarised between bottom end, low status and back street agencies, supplying warm bodies, and high status and highly skilled specialist workers for professional positions. Parallels the wider pattern of polarisation emerging in service sector economies, between high status and credentialised workers in good jobs, and the generic, unskilled warm bodies, in poorly paid and insecure work.Former operate on large scale, often mulit- national in scope, workers often recuited in home country; later more likely to be smaller-scale and to recruit here, although not always, as I shall show.

13 Agency workers at WCH and BI Total number: 22 at Bi and 23 at WCH Warm bodies: 20 at BI and 17 at WCH in bottom end catering, cleaning, security etc 16 different nations represented: 9 out of 20 at BI from Eastern Europe (mainly A8) only one from 17 at WCH BI recruits bodies through agency; WCH buys a service from Greenspan

14 The comparison New migrant labour force at BI: East European and Indian, temporary, here in the main for training – language and management skills Older post-colonial labour force at WCH: in country longer, lnger job tenure, wanted to stay both in UK and in NHS (though worked for an agency not NHS employees)

15 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)

16 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. I have job cleaning at WCH and I work in a bus garage.

17 Hafizs job search My friend working down in this car parking so I come because I come sometime, I say if you help me, so if you know someone, so if I find some job here. So after they told the supervisor, so the supervisor said okay if I have something, I can tell you but I cant promise. I said no problem, please if you help me, I want, Id like a job here at this hospital, so after they said okay. Im waiting about one and a half months, still with the agent. After they called me and said bring your paper and come here. So I come.... fill my form, everything, so I start my job about the last Sunday.... I do the cleaning in the ward, cleaning, everything I do. I am happy, I am really happy,... I love this job.

18 Role of agencies and sub- contractors check references undertake work histories do the requisite police checks and WRS arrange occupational health clearance and visa where needed advise on living conditions, setting up bank accounts etc if appropriate, interview applicants

19 Changing pool of potential recruits theres quite a lot of the new European states now, the Polish, Latvians, Lithuanians. Youve got the WRS so we have to make sure they apply for that which is time-consuming. We give them a month to apply but then we have got to chase them when they dont apply. They have to apply every time they go to a different job and its £70 a go. I dont think they are really educated on the importance of it. You ask some of them – the Lithuanian, the Polish – they dont know what the WRS is, so I have to sit here and explain to the best of my ability and to the point where I now have a stack of application forms in my drawer. You have to chase and chase and chase so its a bit difficult. Its hard to manage. Claire, agency employee recruiting in hospitality sector

20 Advantages for BI and WCH Probation for permanent employment Flexible Easy to sack Could use them to discriminate

21 Well, when it is BI staff and if its busy or not you have to give them the job. If they do 10 rooms or 16, you are paying them for 16 because this is what the contract is saying. If you have agency, how many rooms they do, that much you are paying them. Its saving. Its simple. And when we dont need them, we say youre not working tomorrow and thats it. This is why theyre using the agency, but it is horrible… Sylvia, BI Housekeeping Deputy Manager

22 Interactive work in the hotel We look for someone whose got a very strong aptitude to interact with customers because that's key, that's what hospitality is about, whether that be on the front desk, whether that be in the restaurant, whether that be conference banqueting, even housekeeping, it's really important.... We look for somebody who has a style basically, the kind of person that when you first meet, youll warm to because that's the image that Bellman has. It's all about hospitality, and we also look for someone whos very well presented, has made an effort.

23 Not got what it takes We went to Hungary first and then to Latvia but so far it hasnt been very successful – not like the Indian recruitment. There wasnt the actual aptitude I was talking about, the smiley, bubbly hospitality attitude, is not as prevalent in the people we interviewed, they're a lot more serious..., so there wasnt a natural what I call personality or that demonstration of Im here for the customer, so that was a little bit of a concern.

24 Aggressive Poles The main problem is language barriers and also cultural barriers sometimes, because perhaps what I consider to be rude or abrupt, another person might not see that as being rude or abrupt because thats the way they would generally converse with each other... I think the Polish people are quite headstrong, and so rather than just getting on with it, they ask why? Why? Why?, then you gave to explain, explain, explain and sometimes you just want to get on with it.

25 Compliant Vietnamese we used to have Vietnamese people before and the Vietnamese people are very soft and compliant. Parallels with Indian staff seen as having a heritage of service Feminisation of Asian men

26 Indirect discrimination I have asked the agency staff not to give me any more Polish staff,... because I think if I have a whole Polish staff it would be just too much to handle

27 An older labour force at WCH At WCH, we interviewed agency workers from Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Malaysia, Algeria and Turkey but only one person from the A8 countries. Been in country longer and planned to stay More people of colour

28 Minority workers in Greenspan The hospital 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, - these ladies are in their late 60s now, so they have been here quite a long time - to 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 although she told us East Europeans were hard to place in the hospital because of poor English (Agency owner who recruited for Greenspan).

29 Same old gender divisions of labour Women as care assistants and cleaners Men as doorstaff, heavy cleaning, in BI waiters and kitchen staff Relies on stereotypical characteristics of femininity and masculinity

30 Caring in WCH Some people they havent got a family and like myself I was giving more care to the people who havent anyone, because they dont have a visitor they dont have anyone looking after, doing right thing, because some people come in and check, you know? But some people havent got that and that I think in myself [I] was saying, you know make more effort and we do the care, because I will do this and we will talk to them. That can be hard, it was emotionally, it was very emotional. (Habiba, Health Care Assistant, female, Somalia)

31 Care work by cleaners at WCH If they're short of staff, they will ask me if I can go on the ward to help the patients...I really love old people, I love to help old people as well. Yeah, I have a pity for old people, so I go there and Ill make them breakfast and tidy the ward, like mop and clean the sink and going in their room, clean anything, check toilets, soap and stuff, so Im used to it…I like caring, sometimes I go there and I sing for them. (Amber, cleaner, female, Jamaica)

32 Cleaning at BI Valentina, an agency worker, originally from Russia, describes her daily routine: I should make ready my trolley. Put in chemicals. I take a key, I go upstairs, I knock in the door for sleeping. I start cleaning. Change beds, bathrooms, dust.... I should be quick and it is difficult. Differs from hospital cleaning as (usually) no co- presence and so invisible

33 Dirty work at BI It was a very dirty room, one hour is cleaning this room because everything is oh my God! Family, its one room and family, the children …many children and all the rooms its oh my God! (Teresa, Polish agency worker) Paid to clean 16 rooms in a shift

34 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) 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 –GATS

35 Papers out Economic Geography 83 (1), 2007 Global Networks 8, Journal of Ethnic and Migrant Studies, later this year Forthcoming Brit.J. Of Industrial Relations late 2008 JEMS 2009 Gender, Work and Organisation 2009 Geoforum

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