Labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe in the Nordic countries

Patterns of migration, working conditions and recruitment practices

image of Labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe in the Nordic countries

This report presents the results from a project that has aimed to generate new comparative knowledge about labour migration from Central and Eastern Europe to the Nordic countries, the factors that shape wage and working conditions for labour migrants and recruitment processes and practices. In the report we:

- Describe and compare patterns of labour migration between Central and Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries.

- Compare the working conditions of Polish labour migrants in in Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavik – and analyse how their labour market situation is shaped by variations in national regulations, systems of collective bargaining and local labour market structures.

- Analyse the particular role of recruitment agencies in introducing new migrants to the Nordic labour markets.

The research has been conducted by a team of researchers from Fafo (Norway), FAOS (Denmark), CIRRA/MIRRA (Iceland), CMR (Poland) and SOFI (Sweden).



Comparative analysis and conclusions

The accession to the EUs internal market for labour and services of ten former east bloc countries in 2004 and 2007, not only led to significant flows of people in search of employment from the new to the old member states, it also led to the establishment and growth of what migration scholars loosely refers to as a migration industry – a wide range of individuals, institutions and enterprises seeking to gain profit from the facilitation of such movements (see Spener 2009). In an expanded transnational labour market there are obviously huge “transaction costs” involved for both employers and workers in the form of language differences, lack of information and other barriers to mobility. In order to overcome these barriers and lower the cost and risk of migration, non-commercial informal and social networks connecting sending and receiving areas have been important in the facilitation of labour flows to the Nordic countries. But at the same time, major commercial interests have also been involved in the movement of workers, seeking to gain profit by offering services, brokerage and support to both migrant workers and their potential employers. According to Salt and Stein (1999), the concept of migration industry can be defined as “a system of institutionalized networks with complex profit and loss accounts, including a set of institutions, agents and individuals, each of which stands to make a commercial gain” from migration.


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