Reducing the Risks of Exploitation for Romanian and Bulgarian Labour Migrants after Covid-19

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Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Duration: December 2020-March 2021
Project Lead: Dr Oana Burcu
Programme: Communities and Society
Partner: Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Greencore, Fresca and Justice and Care

About the project

The measures imposed to control the Covid-19 pandemic in Spring 2020 brought migration to a halt and significantly affected the British agri-food sector which relies on 90,000 seasonal workers annually. The sector is already known to be one of the most vulnerable to exploitation, with additional health risks sometimes arising from cramped working conditions and unsanitary housing. The pandemic is likely to have exacerbated these risks, which bear significant consequences for both workers and operating businesses.

This project’s aim is two-fold. First, it will identify the impact of Covid-19 on Romanian workers’ decisions to take a seasonal job abroad, and examine their level of understanding of their labour rights under UK law. These workers form the focus of our investigation as they are consistently amongst those most likely to be victims of exploitation in the UK. Given the threats to job security generated by the crisis, the study will explore whether vulnerable workers are more inclined to accept exploitative conditions when faced with the prospect of losing their job and income. It will also examine whether workers recognise exploitative conditions and have the necessary tools and knowledge to report. We also pay special attention to Romanian Roma workers who are generally subject to considerable economic vulnerability, discrimination and exploitation (Allamby et al, 2011). Second, through data from the project’s first strand on workers’ decisions and empowerment level, it will assess the lessons learnt by the industry in response to managing the workforce and business needs in time of crisis. By also examining other comparable European countries’ responses, we will propose policy options to prevent and minimise future vulnerabilities in time of crisis. 


Read the full report can now be found here: 

Impact of-Covid 19 on Romanian and Bulgarian Workers in the UK AgriculturePDF file icon

Migrant workers' vulnerability to labour exploitation - informative and educational video resource


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