Why Is Labour Protection for Temporary Migrant Workers So Fraught? A Perspective from Australia
Joanna Howe and Rosemary Owens (ed), Temporary Labour Migration in the Global Era: Regulatory Challenges (Hart Publishing, 2016)
43 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2017
Date Written: December 26, 2016
The 21st century has witnessed a growth in temporary labour migration programs. Such a development is surrounded by fierce controversy over the effects of such programs on temporary migrant workers, their countries of origin and the host countries. One point of consensus is, however, clear: temporary migrant workers should effectively enjoy whatever legal protection is provided in relation to their working conditions. Yet, what is most uncontroversial may turn out to be the most complicated - evidence internationally and in Australia suggests that non-compliance with labour protection is widespread with temporary migrant work. Why is this the case? This paper analyses this important question through a focus on 457 visa workers and international student workers in Australia. It argues that non-compliance in this context is structural - it arises from the interaction of the vulnerability of temporary migrant workers, including their precarious migrant status, and employer practices in poorly regulated industries.
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