The Precarious Migrant Status and Precarious Employment: The Paradox of International Rights for Migrant Workers
Kent Law School
October 11, 2011
Metropolis British Columbia: Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Diversity Working Paper No. 11-15
Many civil society organizations and advocacy groups consider international human rights norms to offer a more promising avenue for protecting migrant workers from precarious employment than do claims based upon citizenship and the nation state. However, there is little research on how international right instruments specifically designed to protect migrant workers’ rights address the factors that make migrant workers’ employment precarious. The paper provides a taxonomy that maps the link between migrant status and precarious employment, which it uses to explore the nexus between precarious migrant status and precarious employment in the three “low-skill” streams – the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, the Live-in-Caregiver Program, and the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training (NOC C and D) – in the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program. After demonstrating the relationship between precarious migrant workers and precarious employment, the paper evaluates the capacity of international human rights instruments specifically designed for migrant workers to the address the problem of precarious employment. It finds that the main problem with relying on the international migrant workers’ rights instruments is that they defer to the principle of state sovereignty over immigration policy and accept the right of states to impose restrictions on non-national’s employment rights in exchange for the privilege to enter host state territory. What these instruments do is limit the duration of employment restrictions to two years. The problem is that allowing states to tie a migrant worker’s work authorization to a specific employer for two years permits state-sanctioned subordination of migrant workers to employers and creates a situation ripe for abuse. To break the link between precarious migrant status and precarious employment it is crucial for nation states to develop forms of restrictions on migrant workers mobility, such as sectoral and occupational work authorizations, that are less likely to be as exploitative as authorizations that tie migrant workers to specific employers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 57
Keywords: migrant worker, precarious employment, human rights
Date posted: November 12, 2011
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