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

See all articles by Joo-Cheong Tham

Joo-Cheong Tham

University of Melbourne

Iain Campbell

RMIT University - PVC Design & Social Context

Martina Boese

La Trobe University

Date Written: December 26, 2016

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Tham, Joo-Cheong and Campbell, Iain and Boese, Martina, Why Is Labour Protection for Temporary Migrant Workers So Fraught? A Perspective from Australia (December 26, 2016). Joanna Howe and Rosemary Owens (ed), Temporary Labour Migration in the Global Era: Regulatory Challenges (Hart Publishing, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2890362

Joo-Cheong Tham (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Iain Campbell

RMIT University - PVC Design & Social Context ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia
+(61 3) 9925 3137 (Phone)

Martina Boese

La Trobe University ( email )

Department of Social Inquiry
Bundoora, 3086
Australia

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