The Right to ‘Decent Work’: Global Social Governance and Migrant Precarity

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Nicola PIPER, University of Sydney, Australia
In recent years migration, especially ‘irregular’ or unauthorised migration, has become the principal political issue in many OECD member countries, with 244 million people estimated to be on the move globally. Labour migrants from less-developed regions move internally and internationally in response to poor working conditions and a lack of basic security in their home communities, but often find similarly difficult conditions abroad. They are disproportionately employed in ‘three D’ jobs (the dirty, dangerous and difficult) epitomized by construction, agricultural and domestic work, within countries of destination. Yet, national and global policymakers commonly celebrate such migrants as ‘agents of development’, mostly for the macroeconomic contributions they make in the form of monetary remittances. This paper argues that current migration and labour regulation generate a situation of protracted precarity (i.e. at home and abroad) which undermines migrant social rights, while fostering a regional economic reliance on migration as a survival strategy. Employing a global social governance approach, the role of global institutions will be reviewed in developing a better understanding of the transnational character of labour markets, hiring and employment conditions that is essential for effective migration governance. More concretely, the paper will be about ideas and models of ‘decent work’ as they emanate from various institutional levels (local, national, regional, global), and will develop an institutional and process-oriented perspective of ‘decent work’ in the transnational context of migration by addressing working realities in countries of origin and destination. The Asian region serves as a ‘test case’ for the global social governance of migration by global institutions.