SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Temporary Workers, Labour Exploitation & the Future of Global Migration

Immanuel Ness (Brooklyn College, CUNY)

Date: 9 January 2013Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 9 January 2013Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Seminar


The advanced economies of the Global North have now come to rely on foreign workers in response to the high demand by capital and business in Europe, North America, Oceania, and elsewhere to lower labour costs, often under the guise of filling a shortage of labour, but mainly for the purposes of expanding a reserve army of unemployed workers in the contemporary era of capitalist globalisation.  The presentation examines migration’s influence in disrupting communities and weakening wages and working conditions in both sending and receiving countries.  The talk examines the role of the WTO and multilateral financial agencies in expanding a trade in migrant workers on a global basis to expand corporate profitability.  He implicates state and social actors in sending countries and receiving countries in developing policies that promote illegality, highly exploitative conditions for “legal” temporary workers, and criminalisation, and militarisation of borders. The presentation will make use of in-depth case studies drawn from Mexico, India, and the Caribbean to reveal how new forms of migration expose temporary workers to employers' abuses in the global North.  The presentation rejects the thesis that temporary workers enthusiastically leave their home countries for low-paying jobs and details how traditional trade unions in the global North and South fail to protect the interests of migrant workers.  The presentation includes a discussion of the formation of autonomous migrant labour organizations to defend their economic and social interests of migrant workers.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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