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Bargaining for working conditions and social rights of migrant workers in Central and Eastern European countries (BARMIG), Comparative report

No.53

Bargaining for working conditions and social rights of migrant workers in Central and Eastern European countries (BARMIG), Comparative report

Authors: Meszmann, T. , Kolasa-Nowak, A. and Podgórska, K.
Published: August 2022

Abstract:

Since 2016 the former socialist EU Member States have experienced acute labour shortag- es, especially due to the outmigration of workers to labour markets in western EU states, but also due to demographic factors. The resulting labour shortage has increasingly been compensated for by employing migrant workers from neighbouring non-EU countries, espe- cially from Serbia and Ukraine. The BARMIG project’s original logframe was defined in 2019 to analyse developments in industrial relations in the six Central and Eastern European (CEE) states in order to address challenges and opportunities for trade unions and employer organisations stemming from the above-mentioned labour market developments. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent crisis, the plan of the project was modified also in order to incorporate the impact of Covid-19 on the labour markets in general, and more particularly its effect on the employment of migrant workers, along with reactions from social partners. The research analysed developments in the period between January 2016 and December 2021. The BARMIG project thus could not deal with the entirely new situation stemming from the Russian aggression on Ukraine and the war which also affects produc- tion, labour markets and employment of migrant workers in Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, the final output of the project, the conference in April 2022, with the partici- pation of social partner organisations and renowned experts, also shed light on problems of migrant workers from Ukraine and Russia after February 2022.

The basis of the comparative report are six national reports, covering developments in Croatia (Butković, Samardžija, and Rukavina 2022), Czechia (Martiškova and Šumichrast 2022), Estonia (Masso, Roosaar, and Karma 2021), Hungary (Meszmann 2022), Poland (Pol- kowska et al 2022) and Slovakia (ZEPSR 2022). These reports assessed constraints, opportu- nities and challenges for industrial-relations actors, which stem from the increased pres- ence of migrant workers in four traditional sectors – health care, construction, hospitality and retail services, and metal manufacturing, as well as services provided as part of the digitised economy (i.e. platform work). The national reports also analysed how, and with what capacities, trade unions and employer organisations in the six countries responded to these changes and challenges in general, and more particularly how collective bargaining and social dialogue tackled the issue of migrant workers. The labour-market integration of migrant workers from the countries neighbouring the EU – especially Ukraine and Serbia – was of particular concern to the research. The national reports mapped opportunities for

trade unions and employer organisations to influence policy in the areas of migration, pro- tection and representation of migrant workers’ interests, fair employment, equal rights and integration of migrant workers, also through collective bargaining.

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