- Undeclared labour: don’t blame the migrants
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)
In their notes to contributors to this issue of Transfer, the coordinators, Ambrosini, Cella, and Artiles, assert that ‘Today we know that irregular immigration contributes to the expansion of the underground (black) economy and informal work’. Looking back at our research on ‘undeclared labour’ carried out in 2006, we must contest their assertion. Had the coordinators included emigration, no matter whether regular or irregular, in their perspective, they might have discovered the same coincidence with ‘irregular’ work. Based on our evidence, we cannot detect any causal relationship between migration and the decline in traditional employment relationships, giving rise to various forms of what they refer to as ‘irregular work’. If a causal relationship is at work, we would rather suggest a reverse one, in that undeclared labour (‘informal work’) provides the preconditions for increased labour migration - including ‘irregular immigration’. This assessment is equally based on our research on the free movement of workers four years ago (Cremers and Donders 2004), on industrial relations in the construction industry of six former accession central and eastern European (CEE) States (Clarke et al. 2003) six years ago, and on our project on ‘Undeclared labour in construction’ in the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Given the need for brevity in this note, we shall focus here on the results of the latter project and in particular on those findings which relate to the subject of this issue of Transfer and which pertain to our argument that ‘the underground (black) economy and informal work’ do not stem from ‘irregular immigration’. The title of the book publication stemming from this research, ‘Shifting Employment’ (Cremers and Janssen 2006), indicates our interpretation of the dynamic underlying the rise in ‘undeclared labour’.
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