Background Home

Working conditions in:
Czech Republic
Great Britain

This project is supported by the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS)

Aim of the project
The main goal of the project is to provide potential and future migrant workers in the EU with precise, concise and easily-accessible information about the sector-specific working conditions in the main countries of destination (“know before you go”) as well as with trade union contact information. This is planned to be realised through a multi-language website (first Polish, then Romanian, later other major migrant languages). The website will contain the information about working conditions such as wages, working hours, overtime payments, daily and weekly allowances, rules on accommodation, holiday and pension-schemes and related issues. The project wants to support the generally acknowledged rule “same wage for the same work at the same working-place” that is often violated on the back of the affected workers.

While the internal markets in finances, goods and even services are on the way to become a reality and the political integration within the EU has been deepened, the mobility of workers within the EU is still rather the exception than the rule.

Though in the process of the enlargement this pattern has started to change, there are still some obstacles which stop even young, mobile and trained workers from seeking and obtaining work abroad. One of the most important factors is the lack of precise and at the same time concise information about the specific working conditions in specific sectors in the other member states in a language one is able to understand.

So, the labour market across the EU in the sector is not transparent enough. In many Member states most jobs in the construction sector and certain other sectors open to migrant and mobile workers are of a short-term nature and/or project-based so that migrant workers will often not stay long enough in the country to learn the language intensively to be able to inform themselves properly in the official language of the Member states. In an EU with over 20 official languages, no one can expect even from highly skilled workers to speak many of these languages.

That is why many of these workers are hesitant to look for employment abroad. Others turn to labour agents or posting companies in their country who often do not provide correct information about the general conditions in the sector in other countries, because their business model is relying on a lack of information vis-à-vis the side of the worker. Or workers without proper prior information accept direct job offers from the other country which later turn out to be sub-standard or even below the legal minimum in the sector.

This creates a negative effect on the working conditions of the domestic workforce and thus does not lead to more general acceptance of foreign workers.
In such cases also the generally acknowledged rule “same wage for the same work at the same working-place” is violated on the back of the affected workers. But it will take months before they get aware of that. When they find out eventually that they could have earned much more from the beginning, had they been informed properly and prior to their employment in the other country, many feel general disappointment and will not think positive about their experiment to go abroad for work. When and if at all they turn to the courts they often will find that they should have claimed their wages earlier, etc.

Many of these negative side-effects could be avoided if workers would know exactly - before they go and sign work contracts - about the usual working conditions in their sector in the different possible destination countries and whom they could address, who understands their language, to give further advice without charging high fees etc.

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Project description