This work is concerned with relations between immigrant care workers and their employers in Barcelona.
The population in Barcelona is getting older, the women of the next generation leave home to work, and yet at the same time there exist strong family traditions as well as economic and social limitations which make it undesirable to send the old people to senior citizen homes. A massive influx of immigrants provides unskilled labour that is devoted to domestic work and that is also affordable.
the past ten years house-cleaning has been augmented by care working,
the phenomenon of employing workers to care for old people and children
has migrated from the affluent to the middle and even working classes,
and previous waves of migrants from the interior of Catalonia, from
Andalusia, and in the 1970s/80s from the Philippines, have been
replaced by immigrants from Spanish-speaking South America, and
recently from Eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet Union.
the need for dependability some of the domestic workers are paid
the minimum wage or even more. If, however, they are in Spain without
papers they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Whatever
the terms, in most cases it is the generation of sons and daughters
that pays for the old peoples care, even though the State is starting
to realise the social advantages of home care for elderly people.
Domestic workers may be on their own and thus live in a private space at their employers, or they may have immigrated with their family and work for the day to return home at night. Accordingly they may attempt to establish themselves in the suburbs of Barcelona, or support their family back home including their own children who may be staying with their grandparents and eventually buy a place or set up a business in their home country.
Research provided by Joan Roca i Albert, Hiuwai Chu, and Cristina Martínez.