European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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27 September 2015

How can unions organise posted workers?

A new policy brief of the ETUI puts forward strategies trade unions can deploy to recruit members among posted workers in the construction industry. The recommendations are based on national experiences in Finland, the Netherlands and the UK.

Construction is an industry characterised by highly fragmented labour relations which are the result of long and complex subcontracting chains as well as of the use of agency workers,

self-employment and temporary employment.

The policy brief highlights several actions trade unions could use to engage with posted workers:

  • Trade unions should be present on site during office hours and temporarily remove the membership fee for migrant workers with low-paid jobs to increase unions’ visibility and chance of recruitment.
  • Trade unions should be proactive to give information also outside the site (i.e. in dormitories, living quarters, etc.) and in different languages. This will build trust between unions and the migrant-workers community in the long-term.
  • Trade unions should cooperate with community organisations and the media to raise awareness on labour-standard breaches and to put pressure on the employers to comply with workers’ demands.

Finally, the policy brief also suggests the creation of a transnational union organisation able to protect hyper-mobile transnational workers, which will contribute to the sustainability of the union’s effort in organising posted workers.

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