Is Migration from Central and Eastern Europe an Opportunity for Trade Unions to Demand Higher Wages? Evidence from the Romanian Health Sector

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sabina STAN, Dublin City University, Ireland
Roland ERNE, University College Dublin, Ireland
Industrial relations scholars have argued that east-west labour migration may benefit trade unions in Central and Eastern Europe. By focusing on the distributional aspect of wage policies adopted by two competing Romanian trade unions in the health care sector, this article challenges the assumption of a virtuous link between migration, labour shortages and collective wage increases. We show that migration may also displace collective and egalitarian wage policies in favour of individual and marketized ones that put workers in competition with one another. Thus, the question is not so much whether migration leads to wage increases in sending countries, but whether trade unions’ wage demands in response to outward migration consolidate collective solidarity and coordination in wage policy-making, or support its individualization and commodification.