Contributing to an inclusive and cohesive workplace for migrant workers

Submitting Institution

University of Hertfordshire

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Studies In Human Society: Demography

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Summary of the impact

A body of research on migrant workers and trade unions, undertaken by the university's Global Economy and Business Research Unit from 2006 onwards, contributed to improving workplace equity, inclusion and societal cohesion following the mass and super-mobile migration to the United Kingdom from the European Union's New Member States, and Poland in particular. The impact occurred at regional, national and European level through influencing policy-making processes and forums. A range of stakeholders and practitioners benefited, principally large trade union organisations and their clients, including the Communication Workers Union, European Public Service Unions, and the Polish trade union bodies Solidarnosc and OPZZ.

Underpinning research

Since 1994 Professor Jane Hardy has conducted research in the Hertfordshire Business School in the field of labour markets, gender and trade unions in transforming economies, and Poland in particular. A research project funded by the ESRC in 2006 was the first piece of work to identify the challenges for trade unions associated with the recruitment and integration of post-2004 migrant workers from New Member States. The research uncovered, highlighted and disseminated innovative practices by trade unions in addressing these challenges, and in particular the creative use of the Union Learning Agenda in promoting language skills and cultural understanding.

This was followed by an award from the UK's Communication Workers Union in 2009 to investigate migrant and minority learning needs in the communications industry. The research found that the diverse origins of the migrant workforce in terms of their language abilities and very varied educational qualifications created different and complex learning needs, some of which overlapped with those of indigenous workers and some of which were divergent. There was variation in the extent to which migrant workers had access to union learning.

The European strand of the research was continued in a workshop funded by the university (in conjunction with Unison) in June 2011, which brought together trade unions and NGOs from ten European countries (including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK) to discuss the challenges and best practice of trade unions and migrant workers in the care sector. This workshop highlighted new patterns of cross-border mobility and identified difficulties in integrating migrant workers with and without documentation.

The success of this workshop resulted in the university's research team (Professor Hardy, Dr Calveley and Dr Shelley) being invited to undertake a funded research project on behalf of the European Public Services Union on opportunities and challenges related to cross-border mobility and recruitment in the health sector between October 2011 and June 2012. The findings, based on twenty questionnaires and face-to-face interviews, indicated new patterns of migration for health workers from New Member States to established higher-wage countries of the European Union. The mobility of doctors and nurses was constrained by problems with the cross-border recognition of qualifications. The mobility of nurses was lower, and in particular they faced language barriers and the extent of mobility was less than might have been expected.

A major finding was the difficulties of `brain and skill drain' experienced by some of the New Member States, who were experiencing shortages in some specialist areas. Although there was an increase in the cross-mobility of care workers, we found that there was little systematic information on this group.

References to the research

— Items 1, 2 and 3 are REF2 outputs

1. Jane Hardy, Line Eldring and Thorsten Schulten, `Trade union responses to migrant workers from the "new Europe": A three sector comparison in Norway, Germany and the UK', European Journal of Industrial Relations 18:4 (2012), 347-363. doi: 10.1177/0959680112461464


— Co-author affiliations: Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Norway and Hans Böckler Foundation, Germany

2. Ian Fitzgerald, Jane Hardy and Miguel Martínez Lucio, `The internet, employment and Polish migrant workers: Communication, activism and competition in the new organisational spaces', New Technology, Work and Employment, 27:2 (2012), 93-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-005X.2012.00279.x


— Co-author affiliations: Northumbria University and University of Manchester

3. Ian Fitzgerald and Jane Hardy, `Thinking outside the box? Trade union organizing strategies and Polish Migrant Workers in the UK', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 48:1 (2010), 131-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8543.2009.00761.x


4. Jane Hardy and Ian Fitzgerald, `Negotiating "solidarity" and internationalism: The response of Polish trade unions to migration', Industrial Relations Journal, 41:4 (2010), 367-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2338.2010.00574.x


5. Nick Clark and Jane Hardy, `Free Movement in the EU: The Case of Great Britain', Report Commissioned by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Germany (May 2011). Full report available at: <>

— Co-author affiliation: London Metropolitan University

6. Jane Hardy (Principal Investigator), Moira Calveley, Steve Shelley and Rebecca Zahn, `Opportunities and Challenges Related to Cross Border Mobility and Recruitment of the Health Sector Workforce', Report Commissioned by European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) (2012). Full report available at: <>

— Rebecca Zahn affiliation: University of Stirling

Grants and Awards

Jane Hardy, Moira Calveley and Steve Shelley. `Opportunities and Challenges Related to Cross Border Mobility and Recruitment in the Health Sector', European Public Service Unions, October 2011 to June 2012, £12,000.

Jane Hardy and Nick Clark (London Metropolitan University). `The Impact of Labour Migration to the United Kingdom from New Member States Post-2004', Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, February to May 2011, £3,000.

Jane Hardy, Moira Calveley and Steve Shelley. `Migrant and Minority Learning Needs in the Communications Industry', Communication Workers Union, September to December 2009, £18,000.

Jane Hardy and Ian Fitzgerald (Northumbria University). `Cross Border Trade Union Collaboration and Polish Migrant Workers in Britain', ESRC (RES-000-22-2034), November 2006 to February 2008, £78,767.

Details of the impact

The TUC, Solidarnosc and OPZZ

The initial impact arose from a project that ran from 2006 to 2008, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and led by Professor Jane Hardy. At UK national level, an invited session was organised by Professor Hardy at the TUC's `Day for Decent Work' in December 2008. This brought together international officers of the two main Polish trade union federations, Solidarnosc and OPZZ (representing 1.5 million workers between them), and Polish and British project workers or organisers in UK trade unions.

One practical outcome was the creation of a network at an early stage of Polish-UK migration, and a contact point at the Solidarnosc International Department where Polish migrant workers could access assistance with employment queries. For both OPZZ and Solidarnosc, the network provided a channel of communication with British trade unions in dealing with queries from Polish workers in the UK regarding salaries, overtime and legal rights. An OPZZ representative has acknowledged that Hardy's research helped his organisation to develop contacts and networks `indispensible' to their international work; while Solidarnosc has said that Hardy's work, and their collaboration with her via projects and conferences, contributed to `much of our involvement and success' in addressing the problems of labour migration. According to Robert Szewczyk, International Officer of Solidarnosc, the direct contacts with Poles working for the British unions as organisers was found to be `precious to say the least'.

Communication Workers Union (CWU)

Policy research was also undertaken for individual trade unions. A project for the Communication Workers Union (2009) mapped migrant workers in the union, evaluated existing learning materials and assessed their learning needs. A set of learning materials was subsequently produced.

The CWU reported to the university's researchers in 2011 that the research had provided `authoritative and credible feedback to our funding body, employers and potential partners', adding that this `is of immense value in facilitating further work in lifelong learning'. A representative of the organisation said that the research had identified areas of good union practice with regard to the learning needs of its BME workers, and had also pinpointed areas that required further work. For example, Hardy's work had uncovered `concentrations of BME workers on night shifts that are not so well served by current learning provision'. As a result, the CWU began working to address this as part of their hard-to-reach learners project.

The Gateways to Learning resources that the university's research team produced was found to be `a very useful additional outcome of the project': the CWU confirmed that it had been promoted to their Union Learning Representatives and was made available as a resource on their website. Finally, the union said that, with regard to their lifelong learning project and provision: `Overall the information in the report has informed our future strategies.'

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)

Professor Hardy was also commissioned by the German social and political development organisation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung to produce a report on `Free Movement in the EU' post-2004 (Section 3, Reference 5) to underpin debate among German politicians, trade unions and other stakeholders in preparation for the opening of the German labour market in May 2012. Copies of the report were sent, in both English and German, to 2,000 people (1,000 in German, and 1,000 in English) from the fields of politics, science/education and in NGOs, as well as to all of the libraries in Germany. The FES has confirmed that the German version was downloaded 4,052 times in 2011, and the English version 4,127 times. It is still available on seven German government, NGO or trade union websites, where it has informed debate about opening up labour markets.

European Public Service Unions (EPSU)

The project for the European Public Service Unions, carried out 2011-12, has produced perhaps the greatest impact to date. According to the EPSU president, it

`helped mobilise EPSU members around the issue of migration, to raise awareness about problems and opportunities of the cross-border mobility and migration for health workers, to start a structured exchange about possible trade union strategies to deal with its consequences both in countries with inward and with outward migration. It helped EPSU to have an evidence-based and collectively developed "knowledge base" and a policy document for further use internally, in the framework of the sectoral social dialogue in the hospital sector and vis-à-vis European institutions.'

EPSU made use of the report in several ways. It formed, for example, the basis of policy work, implementation and follow-through of the EPSU-HOSPEEM Code of Conduct on Ethical Recruitment Data, and the research results and recommendations informed EPSU's contribution to an EC consultation (18 July 2012) on undocumented migrants working in the personal and household services sector.

Looking further afield, the organisation took the report and its findings to their global network, Public Services International (PSI), thereby forging a link between EPSU and PSI research and activities surrounding on the migration of health workers from African and other countries. It was put to similar use by the International Labour Organisation office in Manila, with which EPSU collaborates, in promoting ethical cross-border recruitment.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Reports Used for Policy, Strategy and Advocacy

Jane Hardy, Moira Calveley and Steve Shelley, `Migrant and Minority Learning Needs in the Communications Industry'. Report for the Communication Workers Industry, 2009.

Nick Clark and Jane Hardy, `Free Movement in the EU: The Case of Great Britain', 2011. Report Commissioned by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Available online from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung library: <>

Jane Hardy, Moira Calveley, Steve Shelley and Rebecca Zahn, `Opportunities and Challenges Related to Cross Border Mobility and Recruitment in the Health Sector', 2012. Report Commissioned by European Public Service Unions.

Institutional Corroboration

Representatives of Solidarnosc, OPZZ, the Communication Workers Union, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the European Public Service Unions have provided written corroboration of the impacts outlined in this case study. Details are provided separately.