There is an emerging body of literature on the role of labour intermediaries in migrants’ insertion in the local labour markets. In the European context, most of research has predominantly focused on migrants employed in agriculture (see for instance Décosse, 2011; Pugliese, 2012; Hellio, 2014; Azzeruoli and Perrotta, 2015), whereas informal brokers’ action within the construction sector has so far received very little research attention. In this respect, researchers have talked about the action of gangmasters who mediate between construction companies and migrant workers (Anderson and Rogaly, 2005; Cillo and Perocco, 2008; Cremers, 2010), without although providing analytical insights that can advance our understanding of the phenomenon. In construction, gangmastery has been favoured by the long chains of labour subcontracting, as brokers may become “the go-between” the migrant worker and his employer. In other words, such a phenomenon is usually observed when large companies subcontract work to small-scale subcontractors who, in their turn, may subcontract labour to other subcontractors who may recourse to intermediaries in order to find workforce (Cremers, 2009). This practice of labour-only subcontracting usually permits the entrance of informal workforce in the market. In the lowest chains of production, migrant (or native) labourers may be employed through gang-masters who get a cut of their (daily) wages. Informal recruiters may offer jobs to construction workers on a temporary or daily basis, forcing them usually to work for long hours, and paying them less comparing to the terms of national collective agreements. In the light of these considerations, this paper attempts to fill existing gaps in knowledge about the figures who act as informal intermediaries in the construction sector, what their intermediation consists in and the reasons for which their action may be useful to match labour demand and supply. On the one hand, it puts forward a typology of informal labour intermediaries on the basis of (i) the role they have (or not) within the sector, that is whether they carry out or not construction trades; (ii) their individual characteristics such as nationality and age; (iii) the frequency with which they act, that is whether or not informal intermediation occurs as a continuous activity. On the other hand, it sheds light on the way in which and the space where the intermediation takes place. In this respect, it explores how contacts are established and the physical (or not) space where such activity happens. This paper is based on qualitative research evidence and ethnographic methods within my PhD research project studying Albanian builders’ coping practices during the crisis in Italy and Greece (Dimitriadis, 2017). In this article, the empirical analysis draws on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 37 migrant construction workers (dependent or bogus self-employed) residing and working in Milan and satellite municipalities. The majority of them (27) are Albanians; 8 interviews were conducted with non-EU migrants (Tunisia, Ecuador, Moldavia, Morocco, Egypt), and 2 with EU migrants (Romania, Bulgaria). I also interviewed two Albanian entrepreneurs in construction, two Italian dependent workers (one of whom acted as informal broker), and one Albanian architect. Empirical data come also from interviews with a series of institutional actors: representatives of construction-sector trade unions (13); labour inspectors (2); the Director of the Milanese Construction School; one officer of the Institution for the Prevention of Accidents at Work. In addition, I draw on ethnographic material collected during various instances of non-participant observation at places known as meeting points for immigrants who seek employment opportunities (street corner labour market).

Dimitriadis, I. (In corso di stampa). Informal labour intermediation within the construction sector: types and activities of informal brokers. Intervento presentato a: Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa, Bergamo, Italy.

Informal labour intermediation within the construction sector: types and activities of informal brokers

Dimitriadis, I
In corso di stampa

Abstract

There is an emerging body of literature on the role of labour intermediaries in migrants’ insertion in the local labour markets. In the European context, most of research has predominantly focused on migrants employed in agriculture (see for instance Décosse, 2011; Pugliese, 2012; Hellio, 2014; Azzeruoli and Perrotta, 2015), whereas informal brokers’ action within the construction sector has so far received very little research attention. In this respect, researchers have talked about the action of gangmasters who mediate between construction companies and migrant workers (Anderson and Rogaly, 2005; Cillo and Perocco, 2008; Cremers, 2010), without although providing analytical insights that can advance our understanding of the phenomenon. In construction, gangmastery has been favoured by the long chains of labour subcontracting, as brokers may become “the go-between” the migrant worker and his employer. In other words, such a phenomenon is usually observed when large companies subcontract work to small-scale subcontractors who, in their turn, may subcontract labour to other subcontractors who may recourse to intermediaries in order to find workforce (Cremers, 2009). This practice of labour-only subcontracting usually permits the entrance of informal workforce in the market. In the lowest chains of production, migrant (or native) labourers may be employed through gang-masters who get a cut of their (daily) wages. Informal recruiters may offer jobs to construction workers on a temporary or daily basis, forcing them usually to work for long hours, and paying them less comparing to the terms of national collective agreements. In the light of these considerations, this paper attempts to fill existing gaps in knowledge about the figures who act as informal intermediaries in the construction sector, what their intermediation consists in and the reasons for which their action may be useful to match labour demand and supply. On the one hand, it puts forward a typology of informal labour intermediaries on the basis of (i) the role they have (or not) within the sector, that is whether they carry out or not construction trades; (ii) their individual characteristics such as nationality and age; (iii) the frequency with which they act, that is whether or not informal intermediation occurs as a continuous activity. On the other hand, it sheds light on the way in which and the space where the intermediation takes place. In this respect, it explores how contacts are established and the physical (or not) space where such activity happens. This paper is based on qualitative research evidence and ethnographic methods within my PhD research project studying Albanian builders’ coping practices during the crisis in Italy and Greece (Dimitriadis, 2017). In this article, the empirical analysis draws on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 37 migrant construction workers (dependent or bogus self-employed) residing and working in Milan and satellite municipalities. The majority of them (27) are Albanians; 8 interviews were conducted with non-EU migrants (Tunisia, Ecuador, Moldavia, Morocco, Egypt), and 2 with EU migrants (Romania, Bulgaria). I also interviewed two Albanian entrepreneurs in construction, two Italian dependent workers (one of whom acted as informal broker), and one Albanian architect. Empirical data come also from interviews with a series of institutional actors: representatives of construction-sector trade unions (13); labour inspectors (2); the Director of the Milanese Construction School; one officer of the Institution for the Prevention of Accidents at Work. In addition, I draw on ethnographic material collected during various instances of non-participant observation at places known as meeting points for immigrants who seek employment opportunities (street corner labour market).
No
abstract + slide
Informal Brokers, Construction, Italy
English
Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa
Dimitriadis, I. (In corso di stampa). Informal labour intermediation within the construction sector: types and activities of informal brokers. Intervento presentato a: Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa, Bergamo, Italy.
Dimitriadis, I
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/199441
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