Czech Republic: Exploitation of migrant workers in neoliberal economies in Europe and the world
Location: Café Potrvá, Prague
Date: 18 July 2016
Number of participants: 24
Following the workshop, MKC held an event titled "Exploitation of migrant workers in neoliberal economies in Europe and the world", whose goal was the presentation and discussion of the book "Just Work? Migrant Workers Struggles Today" (2016 Pluto), edited by Aziz Choudry. Choudry briefly presented the book, and drew comparisons between various methods of worker exploitation and organizing across the globe. He further stated that the neoliberal economy renders migrant workers economically profitable for employers, as they are often more vulnerable to employers’ exploitation and forced to be more flexible. Yet, migrant workers organize in a multiplicity of ways against vulnerability and labour rights violations, from pushing against threats of deportation and for the right to legal status in some host countries such as Canada, to establishing migrant workers’ unions or alternative migrant workers’ centres.
Marek Čaněk presented his chapter on the tree workers’ case in the Czech Republic, in which workers from EU and non-EU countries experienced severe labour rights violations while planting trees in Czech state forests. Recently, a constitutional court ruled that both the police and the prosecutor’s office mishandled the case and did not proceed appropriately. Despite the positive ruling, it remains that none of the workers were ever paid their owed wages. Čaněk argues that the case demonstrates the low concern by the media, the police, state prosecutors and the public not just of migrant rights but also of labour rights more generally.
Two documentary films from the LABCIT project were screened on labour rights violations that EU citizens faced in the Italian logistics and tourism sectors, and in the Czech Republic. All documentaries can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXdSGqckmISk5kHIBryN0w
Additional information about the “Just Work” book can be accessed here: https://issuu.com/plutopress/docs/choudry_just
All three events were moderated by the LABCIT project coordinator, Adriana Qubaiová.
Following the workshop and the presentation of the book "Just Work? Migrant Workers Struggles Today", a special issue of the cultural fortnightly magazine A2 will be published in August, which will focus on the topic of nationalism, migration and class. The issue will include an interview with Professor Aziz Choudry as well as texts from Barbara Černušáková , Dr. Adam Mrozowicki, and Justyna Kajta.
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Adriana Qubaiova is a PhD candidate at the department of Gender Studies in the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and is currently conducting research in Beirut, Lebanon.