Within the European Union a labour recruitment system exists within which firms use various channels of migration and recruitment to differentiate between terms and conditions of migrant workers, exploiting the blurred boundaries of regulatory frameworks on intra-EU mobility. Though these EU migrant workers are formally not excluded from labour rights, regulations are enacted such that de facto they often are. In particular, migrants who move between EU-member states on a regular basis for work, such as those working in engineering construction, face many irregularities in their employment relations, while hardly experiencing protection from established representation and enforcement authorities.
This presentation discusses a case study of hyper-mobile migrants employed on large-scale construction sites in the Netherlands, and highlights the ways these workers express their agency in dealing with a cross-border employment context in which social protection mechanisms are absent or difficult to access. It is argued that the employment context limits the opportunities for collective organisation (via trade unions for example), and that the workers therefore employ various strategies that rework existing conditions to their advantage. On a broader scale, however, this contributes to the continuation of current labour relations.