Challenges and Opportunities for Organizing Migrant Care Workers in Switzerland

Schneck, Jason (2022) Challenges and Opportunities for Organizing Migrant Care Workers in Switzerland. In: 15th Global Labour University Conference, March 30-April 5, 2022, Online. (Unpublished)

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Switzerland, like many OECD countries, is experiencing an increasing demand for workers in the long-term care sector (LTC). As a result of this demand, the Swiss LTC sector has become reliant on migrant labour to address this challenge. Most of these positions are filled by workers from EU members, with a focus on Eastern and Central Europe but also bordering countries. Switzerland is able to offer relatively high salaries to these workers and there are low requirements to enter the profession. In this highly decentralised sector, there are unique challenges for migrant care workers based on the geographical location and also the setting of a nursing home or home-care. There are opportunities for exploitation due to the precarity of migration, elements of circular migration and the isolation for homecare workers. The aim of this panel presentation is to demonstrate how migrant care workers have utilized associational power to create successes in the sector through previous research. The focus will be on organizing efforts by primarily Polish migrants in the Swiss long-term care sector. These campaigns will highlight the elements and factors that were utilized to achieve success. It will also note the challenges these workers faced as they were organizing. It will conclude with overall thoughts on how migrant care workers in Switzerland can successfully organize and utilize associational power. This will contribute to the theme of the conference on how labour can be transformed in the post-pandemic world by combining these elements with the greater public focus on health and care workers during the pandemic.

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