Forced Flexibility and Exploitation: Experiences of Migrant Workers in the Cleaning Industry
Keywords:Employment, wages, unemployment & rehabilitation, Gender, ethnicity, age & diversity, Labor market institutions & social partners
AbstractGlobalization has resulted in structural changes in the labor markets over the last decades. These changes have weakened some of the economic and social dimensions of work. At the same time, migration and especially labor migration have increased on the global level. This article looks at the situation of migrant workers in the cleaning industry in Finland. It is based on interviews with migrant workers who have experienced labor exploitation in the cleaning industry, representatives of cleaning industry employers, and representatives of labor unions. The primary aim is to give voice to the migrant workers themselves and to analyze how they experience their work and their position in working life. The findings suggest that there is a risk that migrant workers in the cleaning sector experience various forms of exploitation. This article argues that the demand and need for (employee) flexibility may turn into forced flexibility that exploits the powerless and vulnerable migrant workers who have few other options than to agree to work on poor terms. The article suggests that the structural reasons that make the exploitation of migrant labor possible should be identified and addressed in order to prevent misuse of any workers, especially migrants.
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