Migrant Labour in Dutch Agriculture: Regulated Precarity

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The Covid-19 pandemic has placed the contradictions that characterize the conditions of migrant workers in Dutch horticulture in the spotlight. Central and Eastern European (CEE) workers’ low labour and living standards contrast with the sector’s high productivity. This article disentangles these contradictions by analysing their legal, economic, and social causes through the lens of the power resources approach. Countering discourses that depict rights abuses as exceptional and relate them to rogue employers, the article shows that migrant precarity has been legalised in the context of the highly flexibilised Dutch labour market. Workers’ location at the bottom of an agri-food chain dominated by retailers and their dependency on employers weakens their economic position. Trade unions’ lack of effective outreach to CEE migrants has not helped to counter this disempowerment. Engaging with these sources of migrant farmworkers’ disempowerment also helps us to identify entry points for change sketched in the article’s conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217–240
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Migration and Law
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 Copyright 2022 by Karin Astrid Siegmann et al.

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