• Stefania Marino (University of Manchester)
  • Rinus Penninx (University of Amsterdam)
  • Judith Roosblad (Inspectorate for Social Affairs and Employment, The Netherlands)

Brief history

The research group Immigration, Immigrants and Trade Unions in Europe (IITUE) was founded in 2011 with the aim to promote a broad understanding of the relationship between trade unions and immigrant workers in Europe from a cross-disciplinary and comparative perspective. From 2013 to 2017, IITUE’s major project has been a state of the art book on trade unions and migrant workers in Europe during the last two decades. This 17 chapter state-of-the-art publication, written by 23 authors from Migration Studies and from Industrial Relations Studies was edited by Marino, Roosblad & Penninx and published in 2017 under the title Trade Unions and Migrant Workers: New Contexts and Challenges in Europe (Cheltenham, UK/ Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, ILERA Publication Series nr. 1).

The publication of the book in 2017 coincided with the promotion of the Research Group to the status of Standing Committee. These two events led to a renewed definition and broadening of the research field to Immigration, Immigrants and Labour Markets in Europe (IILME), analysing attitudes and strategies of a wide set of labour market actors relevant in shaping the position of migrant workers in the host labour markets and promoting equal rights and working conditions”.


The work on the trade unions and migrants workers’ book has mobilized a unique collaboration between Migration Researchers and Industrial Relations’ scholars. That collaboration will be maintained and further explored by broadening the field of study of the new Standing Committee to Migration, Migrant Workers and Labour Markets in Europe. Such a broadening will bring important new actors in the picture, alongside migrant workers and trade unions: governments and institutional bodies that regulate access to labour markets, set the legal framework for work and employment and control the implementation of regulations (inspectorates); employers and their organisations which have an important regulatory role, together with trade unions, in industrial relations field; several type of third agencies and intermediaries, including subcontractors and recruitment agencies used to facilitate the match between labour demand and supply but, in some cases, also to circumvent regulations . Attitudes and strategies of all these actors are fundamental in shaping migrant workers’ recruitment paths and their position in – for them – new labour markets. The focus on these regulatory actors and mechanisms will furthermore bring to light how they might work differently – and sometimes against each other - at the local level (within workplaces), at the sectoral, national and international levels. As to the latter, the process of European integration as a political, economic and social entity and the consequences thereof for regulatory systems at lower levels as well as for the creation of an “European labour market” will be important issues for study.

The IITUE expertise in the field of Industrial Relations and Labour Studies will be used to a much fuller extent in this expanded field of study. The new name of the Standing Committee will be Migration, Migrants and Labour Markets in Europe (MMLME/IITUE). The second part of the abbreviation is added to indicate the continuity with the work done so far.

Names and institutional affiliation of members

In its first years, the research group IITUE created a network of scholars actively engaged in research on trade unions and immigrants coming from both the fields of Migration and Industrial Relations studies. The IITUE mailing list covered over 80 scholars and practitioners across Europe, many of whom have actually contributed to the recent book on Trade Unions and Migrant Workers. The list of “members of IILME” will be revised and extended, following the lines of the enlarged field of study, including Labour Studies. Also the bibliographic data that have been collected by IITUE-scholars will be enlarged and circulated. The group is presently coordinated by Stefania Marino (University of Manchester), Rinus Penninx (University of Amsterdam) and Judith Roosblad (Inspectorate for Social Affairs and Employment, The Netherlands). New coordinators will be recruited for issues on which a coordinated new research initiative will be developed.

Agenda of activities

IILME/IITUE intends to use (two sessions at) the 15th IMISCOE-conference in Barcelona in July 2018 as a starting point for its work as a new Standing Committee in the coming years. To do so, an Open Call for papers in the enlarged study field will be published. That open Call will also explicitly invite scholars to develop proposals for a coordinated action on certain topics: a research proposal for cross-national comparative research on a specific issue, a thematic issue of a journal or a book on a specific topic, or any other research or publication activity that brings researchers from Industrial Relations, Migration and Labour studies together in a specific project.


Since its establishment the IITUE research group has contributed to all annual IMISCOE conferences by organizing workshops that have seen the participation of both young researcher (e.g. PhD students) and well-established senior academics. IITUE has also been involved in the organization of conferences and workshops elsewhere, such as the University of Manchester conference “Migrant workers, labour market and political regulations in times of “austerity” and ILERA conferences.

The work done in preparation of the heuristic guide for the state-of-the-art book was published as an article in Comparative Migration Studies in 2015:

Marino, S., Penninx, R., & Roosblad, J. (2015), Trade Unions, immigration and immigrants in Europe revisited: unions’ attitudes and actions under new conditions. Comparative Migration Studies, (1)

The major publication will be the 17 chapter state-of-the-art book, written by the 23 authors, approximately half of them coming from Migration Studies and half from Industrial Relations Studies:

Marino, S., Roosblad, J., & Penninx, R. (Eds). (forthcoming 2017), Trade unions, immigration and immigrants in Europe in the 21st century: new approaches under changed conditions. Cheltenham, UK/ Northhampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing.