This project aims to examine both trade union and migrant workers' agency and the structures that facilitate and/or inhibit migrant worker inclusion. It will examine the relationship between trade unions and migrant workers (including informal workers) in different settings. The research will employ an international comparative frame, examining the UK and at least one Southern European country in a specified sector. The PhD student will design a research proposal within this topic focusing on both sides of this relationship (trade unions and migrant workers) and analyse the challenges in aligning their priorities, meeting and achieving the prerequisite terms and conditions for decent work. The project will be based on a qualitative methodology, and semi-structured interviews with a defined sample of migrant workers and several trade union officials and activists. It will involve the conduct of fieldwork in one sector in at least two countries.
The project aims to compare the migration landscape, the industrial relations context and the specificities of the sector selected in the UK and Southern Europe. It will address questions concerning the socio-economic and legal-political dimensions of migrant status and how these shape unionisation prospects focusing on the barriers, risks, costs, and difficulties involved. Internal trade union dynamics will also be examined, including questions of resource allocation, language and physical barriers as well as politics, dilemmas and strategic priorities.
This project is based on the international collaboration of the Centre for Decent Work with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) based in Brussels, which will also provide support to the PhD student. ETUI will provide relevant information based on its own research activities (e.g. trade union renewal, working conditions, labour migration, national case studies) and will grant access to its library, databases and other documents of relevance for the research. It will also offer the opportunity for the PhD student to engage with ETUI's training and learning activities in analysing economic and social developments, assessing working conditions and public policies and issuing of technical and political recommendations.
The PhD student will benefit from the experience and expertise of ETUI researchers and from networking opportunities through access to its extensive network of associate researchers, national experts across European states and national trade union contacts useful in the fieldwork and the dissemination and outreach activities of the research. ETUI will also offer several weeks of an unpaid placement at its premises to further enhance liaising and consulting with its researchers. The timing for the placement period(s) will be decided in accordance with the PhD student's needs and preferences in consultation with the Research Director of ETUI.