Best practices and policy demands of migrant workers during the pandemic

»Workers Without Borders« advocates for the European institutions to do more to protect the rights of workers who move. In particular, it calls on the newly established European Labour Authority (ELA) to take initiative to protect the rights of migrant workers and people in precarious forms of employment. In 2020 and 2021 we are publishing a series of reports with key recommendations to the ELA.

In the last months, we at European Alternatives organised a series of online panels to discuss the working conditions of migrant workers in platform, care and agricultural work during the pandemic. We spoke to many reseachers, union organisers, NGO representatives and workers who share their analysis of the discrimination of migrant and mobile workers in the EU as well as best practices of migrants’ organising and bold policy demands.

The European Union is good at promoting mobility of migrant workers, but poor at ensuring their rights are protected once they start work in another country. EU citizens and especially third-country nationals who move to work have specific vulnerabilities which need to be taken into account by the European Union, ensuring that these workers are well informed and equipped to access and defend their rights, preventing migrant workers falling through the gaps of social security and health systems. The European Labour Authority (ELA) should take care of the vulnerability and isolation of migrant workers, as they are at greatest risk of exploitation.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictions and recession all exacerbated the risks to the rights of migrant and mobile workers in Europe. But workers seized the opportunity to strike back. From workers’ collectives to mutual support groups and union advisory services people are searching for ways to organise in their sectors and across borders. Bogus self-employment seems to be one of the main common problems for many of these workers.

As a new institution with the mandate to reinforce the protection of workers, the European Labour Authority should adopt specific and targeted measures for migrant workers in Europe as part of its work program from 2021 onwards. In 2020 and 2021 we are publishing a series of reports with key recommendations to the ELA.