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[Podcast] Neda Deneva: Labour in the factory: Work to live or Live to work

Note from LeftEast editors: We share this podcast with the permission of its producers from Contrasens. “Contrasens” is a podcast which explores current themes in the field of the social sciences. The project aims to bring to the forefront and make as accessible as possible research conducted by sociologists, anthropologists and other specialists from related fields. Content hosts and producers are students from the Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj: Marina Mironica, Matei Mlinarcic, Karol Pataki, Pati Murg, Vlad Bejinariu and Maria Martelli.

Factory work remains one of the most widespread forms of production. 22.3% of people employed in Romania in non-agricultural fields work in manufacturing production, i.e. in factories. The working conditions are often extremely demanding, and the pay is often the minimum wage. In the case of factory workers in Baia Mare, several dimensions overlap that place people in extremely vulnerable situations – the racism against Roma, poor living conditions due to lack of property, lack of access to education and health services and many others. In the current episode, we discuss what three-shift work means for the people producing our furniture, the precariousness and the consequences it has on workers’ health. The discoveries made in the PRECWORK research project are impressive due to the interdisciplinary nature of the process. The complexity of labour in Romania is put in a special light that makes us glimpse the injustice and inequality that hides behind the right to work, a right that does not ensure the right to a decent life.

This episode is part of the research project “Precarious labor and peripheral housing: The socio-economic practices of Romanian Roma in the context of changing industrial relations and uneven territorial development”, a series based and funded by Norwegian Grants 2014–2021 , Project contract no. 22/2020. ” More information about the project is available here:

Producer: Marina Mironica
Visual: Maria Martelli
Soundtrack: KindStudios
Sources: Labour force in Romania for 2021, National Institute of Statistics…_in_romania_2021.pdfRundown:
Min 00:00 Intro and subject of the episode
Min 07:11 The industrial workers nowadays
Min 10:18 On lack of investments and the surplus of working power
Min 13:05 Formal employment and the impossibility to work for long periods
Min 17:15 What are other needs beside working?
Min 21:00 Chances to be able to buy a house as industrial worker in Romania
Min 25:20 Strategies to deal with the demanding working conditions: migration, unpaid leave, seasonal work
Min 28:00 Social security workers are contributing to our well-being while not getting anything back
Min 35:00 The (im)possibility to have a future after working life
Min 37:15 Local structures that care and the problem with the public policies
Min 40:17 A local strike success story
Min 44:24 Future plans and reasons to stay hopeful

Neda Deneva holds a PhD in sociology and social anthropology from the Central European University. Her work is situated at the intersection of transnational migration, labour regimes, social citizenship, and social reproduction in Eastern Europe. Her most recent research at Babes-Bolyai University within the project PRECWORK focuses on how reindustrialization processes in Romania transform the working and living conditions of Roma workers. She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at SYNYO in Vienna.