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Women behind the Counter. Transformations of Work and Working Conditions of Domestic and Foreign Retail Workers

Women’s labour in various economic sectors has been of interest to social sciences and women´s organizations in the Czech Republic. While issues such as the wage gap between men and women as well as the reconciling of working and family life have received significant attention, other questions such as women’s work and working conditions have not been adequately explored. This project consists of research, pedagogical and communication parts that will follow the transformations of work and working conditions in the retail sector. The retail represents an economic sector with a high ratio of female employment as well as one with a growing proportion of migrant workers. The project focuses on problematic aspects such as temp agency employment, downward pressure on wages, or negative effects of flexibility that the domestic and migrant workers bear. Based on cooperation between academic, trade union and state as well as non-state actors, the project will contribute to a critical discussion on employment problems that women in general, as well as migrant women specifically, face in retail.

General objective of the project is to highlight mutual conditioning of social reproduction (caring, reproduction of workforce, of communities and identities) and labour conditions of women in low-paid and precarious jobs.

Specific objectives of the project are:
- Get to know work and work conditions of women (both nationals and foreigners) in retail in Czechia and relate it to private and family life - how it mutually influences and/or limits each other.
- Publish results of the research and inform general public about work conditions in retail.
- Use research outputs for further discussion about labour conditions in retail and its improvement - with relevant institutional stakeholders (labour unions, employers, labour inspection, employment office, etc.)
- Support education of gender and labour at academia by including empirical knowledge of specific Czech conditions into curriculum
- Interconnect discussions of organizations dealing with labour migration and gender issues
- Enhance expert knowledge of gender perspective in our organization in relation to labour migration issues

Duration of the project: May 2015 – April 2016

Leading partner of the project: Multicultural Centre Prague

Partners: Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague (Ľuba Kobová, lubakoba@gmail.com)

Project team at MKC Prague:
- Petr Kučera, petr.kucera@mkc.cz
- Tomáš Bek, tomas.bek@mkc.cz
- Lucie Trlifajová, lucie.trlifajova@mkc.cz

The project is supported by Open Society Fund Prague in programme Let’s Give (Wo)men a Chance financed from Norway Grants.

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