The facts

Precarious Work in Europe: Causes and consequences for the Agriculture, Food and Tourism sectors

Study carried out by Professor Sonia McKay, Nick Clark and Dr Anna Paraskevopoulou of Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) at London Metropolitan University.

In 2011 EFFAT commissioned the Working Lives Research Institute to make a study of precarious work in Europe, focused on the agriculture, food and tourism sectors. The following extracts are taken from the executive summary:


The EU is committed to policies intended to make Europe a highly competitive, dynamic, knowledge-based economy within a framework of progressive social rights. However, this ambition does not match what trade unions are seeing on the ground. This study shows that instead they are encountering a growing number of workers whose lives are blighted by low pay, poor prospects and exclusion from credit markets; workers missing out on protections from the state (such as social security, welfare schemes and labour law enforcement) and afraid of talking to trade unions; workers faced with job insecurity that causes them stress and prevents them from planning their lives and futures. This is the world of precarious work and it not only generates misery for the workers doing it, it is also infectious: undermining the hard-won terms and conditions of employment of comparable workers in the same employment markets and destroying decent jobs provided by competitors in the same sectors.

EFFAT commissioned this study because its member trade unions were reporting their concerns about increasing incidences of precarious work in the sectors for which they are European social partners (agriculture, hotels, restaurants, catering, tourism, food, drink and tobacco). Many of these EFFAT sectors are particularly affected by the problem of precarious work.

Download the executive summary
Download the full study (167 pages)
This study was undertaken as part of a project supported by the European Commission.