European Work and Employment Research Centre

Migration and Trade Union Responses

Project: Migration and Trade Union responses: An analysis of the UK in a comparative perspective

The current economic crisis, the consequent rise of unemployment and the limitation of welfare resources in many Western European countries is resulting in the worsening of working and living conditions of a significant part of the EU citizenship. The raise of low-skilled immigration towards such countries is increasingly perceived as a ‘threat’ for the host society. Conflicts and differences between national and migrant workers are becoming increasingly manifest, not only in the labour arena but also in the wider society. Discriminatory sentiments and episodes of violence concerning ethnic minorities are spreading. In the researcher’s view, the responses of the social actors to the interplay between migration and employment in the host countries will be important in shaping the future of Europe’s social fabric. Among such actors, trade unions play an important role not only because immigration is primarily linked to labour but also because many conflicts occur in the labour arena both at the individual and collective level.

This project aims at analyzing trade union responses to immigration, immigration policies and a broad range of migrant workers, and at understanding the trade unions’ (actual and potential) role in the economic and social integration of immigrants. Furthermore, it focuses on the trade union’s role in mediating conflicting interests between national and migrant workers.

The research develops a comparative international perspective by looking at a national context particularly affected by recent immigration (UK) and expanding on a previous comparative study on Italy and the Netherlands carried out by the applicant in her doctoral research. The aim of the comparison is a) to highlight differences in trade unions’ formal debates, actions and outcomes related to the inclusion of migrant workers across the three countries and b) to point out explanatory variables and mechanisms for observed differences.

Principal Investigator: Dr Stefania Marino

Funding body: ESRC


The European Work and Employment Research Centre was established in 1994 to build upon and develop expertise in comparative and inter-disciplinary research in the area of work and employment.

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