After abroad, often through employment agencies (Fellini, et al.,

After
EU extension in 2004, Britain provided workers from the EU member states free
entrance to the UK labour market. This resolution was the element of the
Government’s
strategy for migration management, broadening migration to cover vacancies in
skilled and low-waged occupations. According to Hazel Baxter-Reid’s case study
on migrant workers, EU enlargement resulted in a new supply of labour (Baxter-Reid, 2016). While migrant labour
has been hired to fulfill shortages across a range of jobs, involving skilled
occupations (Bach, 2007) (Larsen, et
al., 2005) (Ryan, 2007), the reality is that
migrant workers are more expected to be working in lower paid jobs (Curries, 2007) (Datta, et
al., 2007) (Piore, 1979), for which they are
overqualified in terms of education and experience (Bauder, 2006) (Kreyenfeld & Konietzka, 2002) (MacKenzie
& Forde, 2007)
and operating often monotonous or physically exhausting work in hard conditions
(Fitzgerald, 2007) (Holgate, 2005). By 2006, 44 per
cent of migrant workers were to be found in routine manual employment compared
to 19 per cent of UK-born workers (Salt & Millar, 2006). Employers take part
in recruitment schemes to bring migrants in national labour markets or to
employ directly from abroad, often through employment agencies (Fellini, et al., 2007) (Piore, 1979). All UK employers
agree that migrant workers work hard. Managers frequently address that migrants
are in many instances better skilled and more motivated than local people (WalesOnline, 2006). Migrant people are
coming from poverty-stricken areas and are eager to put in greater effort. They
have been labeled as good workers with a strong “work ethic”. The ethic is recognized as
willingness to work hard, follow management instruction and work long hours
when the employer required (MacKenzie & Forde, 2009). The ability to earn
more money – even
in minimum wage jobs – than in jobs of a higher status in their home
countries was echoed by most workers. The ambition to earn as much money as
possible is the cause employees are seeking all the hours of work available.
The premium paid for overtime added stimulus to work long hours. This was spotted
affirmatively from the employers’ perspective. Most of the migrants have more than one
job.

 

Two
recent studies by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
have demonstrated employers’ reasoning for hiring migrants. The first research,
of over 1200 firms, found that the essential sources for UK firms hunting
migrants were the EU accession states, followed by the established EU
countries, the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the world. The survey obtained
that employers were using migrants for the following reasons: short supply of
candidates with the required experience or skills for the job; migrant workers
were more committed and productive to work; lower wage costs. A good work ethic
is viewed to be exceptionally crucial to employers recruiting workers for low
skilled, routine employment. In one of the CIPD studies, employers mentioned “a
willingness and capability of migrant workers to do repetitive work” as one of
the major skills that migrant workers had compare with home population (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development,
2005b).
What is exactly this migrants’ work ethic? Employers persistently pointed to their
low absence than UK workers. Companies prefer a “good work ethic” over
qualifications or skills in lower-skilled roles (Matthews & Rugs, 2007). That forms
situation when workers are recruited on the basis of their nationality. Over
the years, thousands of East European migrant workers have registered to work.
According to Atkinson and Meagher (1986), firms categorize employees into a
core and periphery. Core workers are skilled and devoted, they have employment
security and extensive benefits, thus their recruitment is careful and
expensive. By contrast, peripheral workers are usually unskilled, replaceable
and expendable, therefore their recruitment is cheap. Migrant workers have to
accept irregular hours and lack of job security because of their weak
bargaining position, their lack of skills and their legal status. In an open
and legal labour market it is challenging to explicitly recruit employees for
obedience, but recruitment in terms of “attitude” allows selection of those
prepared to do the work on the employers’ terms (Rhus & Anderson, 2010). When employers are
offering lower skilled jobs, they are not making much attention on formal
qualifications of prospective employees, “good attitude” and “hard work” are
viewed as the most important quality (Moriarty, et al., 2012). Also, a work ethic
has been associated with a number of different occurrence – migrants are less
likely to be part of trades unions and perceived as less likely to cause
trouble (Rodriguez, 2004). Many people migrate without families,
they do not feel the need to socialize and therefore are available to work longer
hours. This flexibility gives employers to have workforce available any time. It
is argued that the strong migrant work ethic is directly connected to migrant
labour market power and low levels of English language and issues around the
portability of qualifications which prevents migrants from getting positions that
better fit their wider skills (Dawson, et al., 2017). As they move into
low skilled and often temporary roles, they have to find new ways of showing
productivity in order to move into roles that better fit upon their wider skill
sets (Hopkins, 2017). Employers are trying to exploit
migrants by forcing them to work long hours and pay low wages. Cost minimization
is often named as the key imperative for employing workers (Fellini, et al., 2007) (Rodriguez,
2004).

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Furthermore,
I would like to use the jobs in warehouses which are popular between migrant
workers to discuss more about “work ethic” and working conditions. These occupations
are characterized by a number of features: relatively low wages, high turnover
rates, low trade union density and persistently high vacancy rates (Matthews & Ruhs, 2007). The use of migrants
and their working conditions is associated with a “hard” approach to HRM.
Fitzgerald (2007) examines employers’ use of Polish workers in the construction
and food processing sectors in the North of England. This study points to the
low wages and poor employment conditions experienced by many people. It is
argued that good employers are being undercut by firms pursuing low cost
competitive strategies which are reliant on the heavy us of migrants (Fitzgerald, 2007). Also, the major
disadvantage faced by migrants is that their qualifications and skills may not
be recognized by organizations in the country to which they are migrating. As a
result, they cannot show the higher levels of productivity that native workers
can us (Spence, 1973). Migrants must use other approaches to
show their capability for example, in the form of lower levels of absence (Alberti, 2014) (Hopkins,
2014) (Hopkins, et
al., 2015) (MacKenzie
& Forde, 2009).
Employers’ demand of labour supply is affected by what they think they can get,
and labour supply often adjusts to employers’ needs (Anderson & Ruhs, 2010). Perhaps, managers’
idea of the good worker shaped workers’ work ethic. In the Mackenzie and
Forde’s (2009) study of  “Glassfix” is
stated that number of hours worked is being evaluated as measure of work ethic.
Also, Tannock’s (2015) study finds that working overtime shows behavior to
demonstrate a good work attitude. In order to signal higher productivity,
migrants attempt to demonstrate a higher level of work ethic through lower
levels of absence.

 

But what
happens to this migrants’ labour market power over time? C. Dawson, M.
Veliziotis and B. Hopkins (2014) have investigated the changing levels of
labour market power affecting the behaviours associated with work ethic over
time in case study called “Assimilation of the Migrant Work Ethic”. They used
Labour Force Survey data to demonstrate that the absence rate of A8 CEE
countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) assimilates to that of UK
workers as they spend longer in the UK (Dawson, et al., 2014). Managers consider
A8 migrants to take less sickness absence that their local colleagues which is
seen as a measure of work ethic. Evidence collected in informal interviews
suggested that limitations on migrants’ labour market power reduced as they
spent longer in the UK. They were able to access networks of migrant workers
who were able to provide information about jobs and employers, they were
becoming more aware of the value of qualifications gained outside of the UK and
a longer period of time allowed for the development of English language skills.
The migrant work ethic cannot be considered as a fixed characteristic, but
instead as one that is inextricably linked with labour market power and can
fluctuate over time. The evidence from these case studies is that as limiting
factors on labour market power reduce then demonstration of the behaviours that
are considered to demonstrate this work ethic will reduce. Therefore, the
moment migrant workers get into comfort zone things change, they stop carrying
about hard work and just want money. Even though people work really hard, their
pay do not compensate for the effort. In the beginning they are trying to work
hard because the pay is greater than in their home countries but as they gain
more experience, they realize that the payment is not worth it. Despite the
huge turnover rate, the managers use migrant worker labour as a strategy which
greater control. The companies put workers on a zero hour contracts and threat
workers like a disposable resource.

 

To
conclude, employing migrant workers does nothing for community cohesion.
Employers should be looking for more hiring local citizens. The common issue is
that training in UK colleges provides knowledge at the expense of practical
experience, whereas migrants from other countries were seen to possess a
mixture of both. As workers become more embedded in the local community and
labour market, their aspirations develop beyond the willingness to accept long hours
of work and levels of pay which leads to very high labour turnover rates (Datta, et al., 2007) (Forde & MacKenzie, 2009). Also, Elger and
Smith’s (1998) analysis of Japanese manufacturing firms in the UK found that
under conditions of relatively low pay, workers were willing to move to
alternative employment for very marginal improvements in their terms and
conditions. Bauder (2006) argues that the longer an immigrant spends in a
country the more their attitudes towards work come to reflect the “habitus” of
the local population (Bauder, 2006). This is a strategic response to the
labour market constraints or opportunities they face. However, deregulation to
free up the mobility of labour on a cross-national basis may have allowed for
the creation of more jobs. But these have been low-paid labour intensive
positions contrary to the logic of making Europe the most dynamic knowledge
based economy in the world (MacKenzie & Forde, 2009). The absence levels
and a willingness to work overtime has been described as a “good work ethic”.
These are the ways for migrant workers to signal their potential higher
productivity. In this way, migrants were seen as having a high level of work
ethic compare with native workers. Nevertheless, they do not have a better
“work ethic” than domestic workers, they just simply are trying to be good that
they could cope with managerial strategies. The migrant work ethic cannot be
seen as a fixed characteristic but one that is linked to labour market power
and that can alter over time.