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Labour market segmentation and the demand for EU migrant workers: A comparative study of Sweden and the United Kingdom

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Abstract

This study analyses and compares the nature and extent of employers’ demand for EU migrant workers in the food manufacturing and transportation and storage sectors in Sweden and the United Kingdom (UK). The research uses the theoretical framework provided by labour market segmentation theory and a broadly pragmatist methodological approach and a case study strategy. Within the framework provided by labour market segmentation theory, the research design and analysis of the sectoral case study findings have been situated in the context of the two countries’ industrial relations systems and national variation in the nature of their economic organisation, which reflect divergent regulatory frameworks and economic practices.
As a result of diverging national practices it is found that the demand for EU migrant labour varies between the two countries and sectors. The Swedish labour market does not currently display strong evidence of a segmented structure, but it is suggested that there is the potential for it to become more segmented, partly as a result of the presence of EU migrants. On the other hand, the UK labour market is already viewed as being segmented with the employment of EU migrants helping to sustain this. There is a corresponding association between a more prominent role for EU migrant workers in the UK labour market than there is in Sweden. On this basis, this research can be considered as making an important contribution to better understanding employers’ demand for EU migrant labour in the context of comparative industrial relations research.

Publication Date Jul 1, 2019

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