Fighting Structural Invisibility and Precarity

15 June 2023: Left East: Fighting Structural Invisibility and Precarity: Interview with Julius-Cezar MacQuarie on the Nightworker Charter

By Julius-Cezar MacQuarie

[Extract] You have this wonderful insight  – namely you talk about the structural invisibility of migrant nightshift workers. It is clear that there is strong anti-migrant propaganda, and a significant portion of the local population is hostile to workers both in the UK and much of Central and Eastern Europe. In the UK, how does this invisibility appear from the perspective of migrant workers? I understand that such invisibility is a conscious choice also of migrant workers. What are the concrete experiences and your insights?

My initial intent was to study the ways in which groups prefer to cooperate or engage in solidarity. In this case, I wanted to look at the Romanians and Turkish, partly because I spoke the language of both and so I had an easier point of entry, and partly because these were the largest migrant groups in the labor market. I wanted to look at cooperation and solidarity and I found different stories about embodied precarity. I’ve noticed, for example, that at certain companies, there were layers of intersecting hierarchies, linked by ethnic ties. You have the transnational corporations trading fruits and vegetables between Turkey and the UK. They have their pool of workers. So they could easily hire either by word of mouth in Turkey or via workers who would go on holiday in Turkey and bring back more workers. So there was a sort of shuttling between these workers who would come and do a few months or workers who were there for 14-20 years. These companies could access these workers in various ways, easily. 

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