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Centre of Migration Research

“Four months on – essential workers and the pandemic”


“Four months on – essential workers and the pandemic”. 

A webinar featuring talks by Elizabeth Pellerito, Anna Rosińska, Cleovi C. Mousela and Kamila Fiałkowska


Source: youtube

Date: 6 July 2020

Over the past four months, we have all learned that range of skills, professions and workers are especially needed in a pandemic. At the same time, many essential workers experience highly precarious working conditions, without proper contracts and health insurance, who are treated as the so-called “disposable workers”, to be fired and hired depending on the need. In addition, from doctors, nurses, and care workers to delivery drivers, shelf stackers and strawberry pickers, many of these “essential workers” come from abroad. Importantly, until not long ago, many of them, now deemed essential, were called unskilled labour. Essential workers were key to our economies and societies before the pandemic and are likely to become even more essential in the recovery to sustain our weakened economies and societies. How are these workers experiencing work during COVID-19? Is the realization of their importance, evident in the discourse on essential workers, making an impact on their working and living conditions? Can we identify the inequalities, which were accentuated because of the pandemic? Where are we at four months on since the pandemic started, is there a scope for change or is it “business as usual”? How do the workers experiences vary in different countries, ranging from differences between EU countries as Germany and Poland, but also Europe and the United States?

Elizabeth Pellerito, Ph.D. organized university employees including faculty, staff, graduate students, researchers, postdocs, and librarians in Oregon and Michigan before joining the Labor Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2018, where she is now Director. She is on the boards of the Bread & Roses Heritage Festival and the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development. Elizabeth is experienced in training union members and leaders on a wide variety of topics. She is particularly interested in trauma-informed organizing and how unions can combat sexual assault, sexual harassment and intimate partner violence.

Anna Rosińska, (formerly Kordasiewicz) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at that Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and a visiting scholar at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (2018-2021). She has studied paid domestic and care work in Italy, Poland, and the United States. Anna Rosinska has obtained her Ph.D. in sociology at the Department of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Warsaw in 2011. She has published an awarded book on paid domestic work in postwar Poland “(U)sługi domowe”, WUMK, 2016. She has worked at the Centre of Migration Research, Warsaw, and co-authored a monograph “Ethnomorality of care. Migrants and their aging parents”, Routledge, 2019, together with A. Radziwnowiczówna and W. Kloc-Nowak. Her current project is “MAJORdom. Intersections of class and ethnicity in paid domestic and care work: theoretical development and policy recommendations based on the study of ‘majority workers’ in Italy and in the USA”. Find out more at her research page

Cleovi C. Mousela, is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, Germany and a visiting fellow at Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK. Her research interests include migration-mobility – its relationship with labor, development, security, and environmental change – decolonization and care ethics. She is currently working on a project on migrant precariousness and caring practices in the context of climate change. She has recently published her first book entitled, ‘Recuperating the Global Migration of Nurses.’

Kamila Fiałkowska, is a researcher at the Centre of Migration Research, University of Warsaw. Her research interests revolve around gender relations in migratory settings, masculinity studies and family relations, construction of national and gender identities. Involved in the study of Polish Roma migrations to Germany and Great Britain and temporary migrations (especially seasonal farm workers).


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