Jane Hardy: State, Labour and Capital: Migration in an Enlarged Europe / Ilker Atac: Discussing Migration in the Light of the Economic Crisis: Beyond the Victimization and Economization of Migrants
State, Labour and Capital: Migration in an Enlarged Europeby Jane Hardy
An enlarged Europe after the May 2004 and January 2007 accessions has provided more extensive territories over firms and states can arbitrage labour costs. The concept of labour arbitrage links two phenomena which are usually treated dichotomously ‘ namely foreign direct investment (FDI) in goods and services and migration. Although some literature emphasises the notion of the knowledge economy and the embeddedness of firms, an intensification of competition has forced capital to cut costs at every point in their value chains, which has led to the geographical dispersion of sectors such as automotives and business services to new member states. However, not all capital is footloose and migration has been used by countries such as Ireland and the UK to supply labour for a range of jobs in food processing, transport and other public services. States continually draw and redraw boundaries in line with the demands of domestic capital and labour markets, which creates hierarchies of migrant labour in terms of legal status and access to regulated work.
Migrant workers are not simply passive victims of states and capital, and migration and foreign direct investment are contested processes. As individuals, workers have agency in terms of taking advantage of differential wages; collectively workers have agency through trade unions and labour organisations. This paper examines the possibility for organising migrant workers and their ability to resist exploitative practices in the context of Polish migrant workers in the UK, which demonstrates both the possibilities and problems of cross border collaboration.
Discussing Migration in the Light of the Economic Crisis: Beyond the Victimization and Economization of Migrantsby Ilker Atac
This paper attempts to evaluate the effects of economic crisis on the migration movements and policies in Austria from a comparative Marxist perspective. Such an evaluation requires a historical contextualisation since the early 1970s with respect to the accumulation strategies and the social model adopted by the Austrian government. During this period migrant workers had limited rights to enjoy and the trade unions adopted the strategy to privilege domestic over migrant workers. The number of migrant workers decreased substantially and in the aftermath of the second oil shock of 1981 migration was still regulated by controlling migrant workers’ access to labour markets.
During the 1990s and 2000s there has been a major change not only in terms of migration patterns, but also in terms of the neoliberal economic transformation, which had a deep impact on the Austrian social model. Within this period, especially after the Central and Eastern European countries became members of the EU, two shifts in the Austrian migration regime were generated. First of all, under the process of Europeanization the government enhanced the rights of the long-term residents and their dependants, which effected the formerly discriminatory labour market policies. Secondly, even though the immigration of unskilled and semi-skilled workers was formally restricted, the employment of seasonal workers was facilitated especially in the tourism and agricultural sectors. This pattern of immigration has been debated as a new form of establishing a kind of new ‘guest worker’ regime, which excluded the granting of full social and political rights to those seasonal workers.
Against the background of those two major developments, the paper attempts at revealing the specific features of the Austrian regime of migration with respect to i) right regimes ii) changing forms of accumulation strategies and social model. The changing modes of regulation of the government regarding the migration movements will be discussed in terms of the actual economic crisis in Austria.