abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb
Article

20 Apr 2020

Author:
Manès Weisskircher, Julia Rone & Mariana S. Mendes, openDemocracy

The only frequent flyers left: migrant workers in the EU in times of Covid-19

See all tags

As many European countries have closed their borders and imposed stringent quarantine measures, there is a group of people that continues crossing borders, exposing themselves to risk, often because they hardly have another choice – migrant workers from eastern Europe...

The economic logic is clear. While for western standards, eastern Europeans provide cheap labour, the wages these workers receive in the West are still much higher than what they would get for the same work at home...

Lack of proper health care insurance, social protection, and adequate working conditions for eastern European workers have already been a serious problem in the past. But these problems have been exacerbated even further by the pandemic...

In an open letter from of March 31, the Bulgarian trade union Podkrepa demanded that the Bulgarian government either stops workers from leaving the country ... or pressurises receiving countries into protecting the economic rights and health of workers... So far, neither of these routes has been taken...

[N]ow is the moment to push for unionization of migrant workers and legal measures to guarantee their rights, not only now, when it is urgent to have them, but also in the future. In addition, more cooperation between eastern European trade unions and trade unions in western countries such as Germany and the UK is direly needed...

Timeline