Global cities at work

Overview of the project

These pages relate to an ESRC-funded research project entitled Global Cities at Work: Migrant workers in low paid employment in London that ran from 2005 to the end of 2007.

The work was conducted by Jane Wills, Kavita Datta, Jon May and Cathy McIlwaine, all based in the Department of Geography and The City Centre at Queen Mary, University of London. The two research associates on the project were Dr Joanna Herbert and Dr Yara Evans and both remain attached to the Department as Visiting Fellows.

The project had the following aims:
• To advance the academic understanding of the importance of migrant labour in global cities.
• To produce the first comprehensive empirical evidence about the role and experiences of migrant workers in low-paid employment in London.
• To highlight the implications for public policy.

The project involved the analysis and collection of a large body of data including:
• Analysis of the Labour Force Survey to explore changes in employee numbers and the proportions of migrants for a number of occupational categories for the periods 1993-4, 1999-2000 and 2005-6. (This work was conducted with Yiannis Kaplanis from the London School of Economics).
• A new questionnaire survey of 429 foreign-born workers employed in cleaning, home care, construction, hospitality and food processing in London.
• Analysis of a questionnaire survey collected with 423 Brazilians living in London
• A case study of one cleaning contract in one building at Canary Wharf including the collection of quantitative and qualitative data about the 105 workers employed.
• Interviews with more than 100 foreign-born workers in the selected occupational categories. (This work was conducted with the help of Boguslaw Potoczny, Monika Percic, and Eva Matamba)
• Interviews with 30 representatives of employers and employers associations; policy makers; activists and community groups.

BUY a discounted copy of Global Cities at Work, click here

The project final report is available from the ESRC

The research conducted for Global Cities at Work features heavily in this new film from the Migrant Rights' Network called "Migrants for London, London for Migrants".
To view it click here:

To hear a short audio recording summarising some of the key findings from the research, click on this link to the ESRC website

Listen to the Guardian's In Business podcast on immigration that features the research conducted for Global Cities at Work.

Additional publications from the project are listed on a separate page of this webpage.