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).



Labour market regulation, migrant workers and varieties of “social dumping” in Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavik: Introduction

The Nordic countries have in the years since the eastward enlargements of the European Union in 2004 and 2007 attracted considerable numbers of labour migrants from new EU member states, and particularly from Poland. The recent inflow of migrant workers to the Nordic countries has raised a number of questions and challenges regarding work and welfare in those sectors to which the labour migrants have been recruited. The term social dumping has featured high on the political agendas in all the Nordic countries in the years since 2004, usually referring to low wage competition, exploitative working conditions and the fear that migration and labour recruitment from low wage countries would undermine national systems of collective bargaining and labour market regulation. Although concerns over wage levels and working conditions apply to all new migrant workers, migration in the form of service mobility and posting of workers has been perceived to be a particularly difficult area for the enforcement of national labour standards. All of the Nordic countries – although to varying degree – have experienced these challenges, but the institutional responses to them have diverged. For example, Norwegian efforts by government and social partners to combat social dumping have entailed a significant shift towards stricter legal regulation and enforcement of wages and labour standards through industry-wise legal extension of collective agreements and regulations on so-called chain liability. The Danish responses, on the other hand, have to a greater extent followed established historic traditions of collective bargaining between social partners. In Iceland, the impact of the financial crisis overshadowed emerging discussions about social dumping among migrants, as the economic downturn was met by devaluation of the Icelandic Krona and austerity measures affecting the living conditions of all Icelanders.


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error