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2012 - Strengthening social inclusion of migrant workers in the European construction industry

The project entitled “Strengthening social inclusion of migrant workers in the European construction industry”, was organised in 2012/2013 by the EFBWW with the financial support of the European Commission. It resulted in a publication with concrete examples on how to integrate migrant workers in the labour market and within the existing trade union structures.

The study was carried out in 10 countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and also Norway and Switzerland.

The findings of the project were discussed during a European seminar. The participants of the seminar had the opportunity to obtain additional information and clarifications. At the end of the seminar the participants agreed on joint conclusions and recommendations, which will be implemented by the EFBWW and its member organisations. In addition to the findings the project also delivered an overview of best practices, which could be used by national trade unions.

At the moment, the EU is pushing further its initiatives to strengthen the European Labour Market, migrant workers are part of this process. Within the construction industry the level of migrating workers is one of the highest. Several legislative steps already passed the European legislative phase, others are in the process of pre-legislation (enforcement Directive on Posting). These initiatives coincide with the EU ambitions to further and maintain a sustainable European social model, welfare system, economic growth and public finance as explicitly referred to in the Renewed Social Agenda.

The EFBWW (European federation of Building and Wood Workers), a European Social Partner of the Construction Industry, together with its affiliated members has welcomed these initiatives, although many members raised deep concerns regarding the operational and practical application of migration on the work floor. Many trade unions fear that without specific, targeted accompanying measures the migrant workers could be subject to discrimination and exclusion. Within the construction industry these "dangers" are more likely to occur than in other - less vulnerable - sectors. This would seriously jeopardize their labour market potential and could lead to social exclusion instead of social inclusion.

An internal discussion - based on the report of the Dublin Foundation entitled: "Trade union strategies to recruit new groups of workers"[1]-, established that virtually all national trade unions in the construction industry have taken at least one or several steps to integrate migrant workers in their existing structures, in order to facilitate their integration on the labour market (through information, help, assistance, …). Unfortunately, it seems that most pilot activities did not fully reach the intended objectives. However a few countries, i.e. Italy, Spain, Norway and to a certain extent also Switzerland and Germany have achieved more success over a period of years.

The project assessed the available information, knowledge and practical experience in order to establish a manual with usable and transferable information for trade unions and associated organisations on how to bolster the integration of migrant workers in the labour market and within the trade union structures.

In line with the call for proposals, the EFBWW and its affiliated members expressed their wish to focus their attention on the existing best practices and see which elements are transferable to other countries.

Below please find the summary of the project results, best practices and recommendations in 11 languages:

Below please find the 10 full country reports in English only: