Unsavoury Employer Practices: Understanding Temporary Migrant Work in the Australian Food Services Sector

International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations (Forthcoming)

25 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2018

See all articles by Joo-Cheong Tham

Joo-Cheong Tham

University of Melbourne

Judy Fudge

Kent Law School; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: November 1, 2018

Abstract

Why do employers in specific sectors significantly use migrant workers? Using temporary migrant work in the Australian food services sector as a case-study, this paper argues that employers’ demand for migrant workers is shaped by two forms of social regulation: the immigration controls that create a supply of different kinds of migrant workers and the labour market norms and institutions that operate within a specific industrial sector. Specifically, the paper argues that the cost-minimisation strategy of Australian food services sector in conjunction with its precarious work norms result in a ‘demand’ on the part of its employers for vulnerable workers to perform precarious jobs. Such ‘demand’ has been met in part by the workers supplied through temporary labour migration programs who may be an attractive form of precarious labour because of the conditionalities they experience. The normalization of non-compliance with labour laws by food service employers, which stems from the broader culture of illegality in the sector, further heightens the vulnerability (attractiveness) of temporary migrant labour and allows their employers to ‘demand’ illegal working conditions.

Keywords: Migrant workers, Use of migrant labour, Conditionalities, Sectoral Regulation, Food Services

Suggested Citation

Tham, Joo-Cheong and Fudge, Judy, Unsavoury Employer Practices: Understanding Temporary Migrant Work in the Australian Food Services Sector (November 1, 2018). International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3287018

Joo-Cheong Tham (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Judy Fudge

Kent Law School ( email )

Keynes College
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP
United Kingdom

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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