In this study we investigate the main characteristics of the trend of posting third country nationals to work in the EU construction sector. The report focuses on the specific regional labour mobility patterns between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as a third country, Slovenia as a sending country, and Austria as a receiving country. The study is based on the insights provided by representatives of the national policy-making and enforcement authorities (ministries of labour, labour inspectorates, public employment agencies, agencies for social protection), trade unions and employers’ organizations, NGOs, and research institutions in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia.
The main findings indicate that there are strong push and pull factors between the country of origin, the sending country and the receiving country. BiH workers come from an experience of economic and political instability and insecurity that drives their mobility and migration plans to neighbouring Slovenia that provides relatively easy access to its labour market for workers from the former Yugoslavia. Employers in the construction sector in Slovenia have used these third country national (TCN) workers as well as Slovenian workers to provide competitively cheaper services to the wider EU construction industry, thus transforming temporary service provision via posting into an expanding business model. We find that despite the fact that Slovenia and, more so, Austria have stronger employment regulations in place, including universally applicable collective bargaining agreements in the case of Austria, irregular and exploitative employment relations practices are transferred from the country of origin to the sending and the receiving EU countries.
Despite the mechanisms for control and enforcement of national/EU standards, the vulnerability of TCN posted workers persists due to the cloaking effect of the posting employment characterized by subcontracting, cross-border mobility and temporary service provision. Therefore, more efforts should be made at the workplace, industry, national, and regional levels to strengthen the legal framework and its enforcement, as well as cross-border collaboration, in order to increase the level of protection of posted workers who are third country nationals.