Voluntary work as a new frontier in the precarisation of migrant workers: the case of asylum seekers in italy
Within the deep work transformations that have taken place in recent decades, the European labour market has been affected by a process of structural precarisation which has created unprecedented forms of precarious work. Among such, unpaid work is an expression of extreme precarity due to the complete separation between work and wage. For several causes, migrant workers are one of the categories most affected by work casualisation and live a condition of double precarity (work and legal), mainly produced by migration policies. At the same time, immigration is involuntary a test bench for new forms of flexible work.This article examines the link between work casualisation and migration through the analysis of a specific form of unpaid work, i.e. the voluntary work by asylum seekers in Italy - institutionalised as a public policy in 2014. Considered as a mechanism of “public atonement” for the guilt of migration through activities of public interest, the article highlights how it constitutes an extreme form of precarisation of a vulnerable category. In merging elements questioning the unconditionality of the right of asylum and acquaintance with permanent precarity, it creates an unprecedented “grey area” of labour exploitation and cultural inferiorisation.
Keywords: asylum seekers; migration; precarity; voluntary work.