Tibor T. Meszmann: Social Construction of a Good Worker and Its Background: Ukrainian Temporary Agency Workers in Hungarian Manufacturing

Feb. 8, 2019

We are most kindly inviting you to another CELSI Frontiers Seminar, with Tibor T. Meszmann presenting topic Social Construction of a Good Worker and Its Background: Ukrainian Temporary Workers in Hungarian Electronics, based on the paper coauthored by Olena Fedyuk.


In contrast to usual integration of migrant workers for ‘bottom jobs’, employment of Ukrainian workers in Hungarian electronics plants seem to take place in a more beneficial way. With the active mediation of temporary (temp) agencies Ukrainian migrant workers get regular blue collar assembly jobs, and social rights and benefits just as their local Hungarian colleagues. Relying in our analysis on literature from industrial sociology, migration research as well as global value chain literature, we are developing a critical perspective in which migration and employment are not seen as separate spheres but mutually reinforcing each other. We combine a bottom-up empirical research based on interviews with workers and a sectoral inquiry on industrial and employment relations in the temp agency sector in supplying multinational corporations. Our main argument is that complex contracting means also subtle controlling. Such contracting is not the cheapest, but it creates a different, efficient form and regime of employment with dependent, controllable, flexibly available, ‘fluid’ employees. Employee respondents described their position as dependent, “out of control,” and only a temporal earning opportunity. Devoid of clear mechanisms of controlling their work conditions or growth within the job, all respondents turned to a more instrumental approach, in which they invested into building up a personal social capital through friendships, networks and personal relationships. Obtaining Hungarian citizenship and learning the language was another main strategy of dealing with insecurity. This attempt corresponds with, and reinforces a more globally integrated, but an ethnically motivated immigration regime, characteristic to post-socialist Hungary.

Seminar will take place on Friday, February 8 2019, at 11:00-12:15, at CELSI (Zvolenska 29, Bratislava).

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