Great White North Vs. Tim Hortons: Filipino Service Workers and the Mobilities of Capital and Labour

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Pauline BARBER, Dalhousie University, Canada
Catherine BRYAN, Dalhousie University, Canada
This paper explores the entanglement of domestic and transnational labour mobility policies in the case of Philippine migrants entering Canada as temporary foreign workers. Various studies have explored how labour export and import policies in both countries have been finely calibrated to secure maximum economic benefit from this highly motivated mobile labour force. Typically the existing literatures reflect what Wimmer and Glick Schiller described as “methodological nationalism” in that they maintain a primary focus upon either the site of labour export, or labour import. Filipino migrant workers thus become products of their nation’s labour brokerage, or emplaced within Canada as temporary workers exploited by the capital friendly “just-in-time” immigration system.

Here we wish to complicate the relevant mobility scenarios through an emphasis upon how workers engage with and are subjected to the mobilities (and fictions) of capital. We do so through an examination of labour recruitment and capital accumulation scenarios attending the labour import strategies of that most quintessential of Canadian fast food chains, Tim Hortons. In reality, Tim Hortons is owned by Brazilian based global corporation, RBI. Through 2016 and 2017, the corporation sought to enhance its profitability by pressing cost-saving measures on North American franchisees, while at the same time expanding its global reach, including into the Philippines. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Manila in 2017 and 2018 with migrants seeking employment contracts in Canada, and with recruiters interested in deploying these mobile workers to Canada, or indeed, any available global labour market acceptable to the workers, we examine various relevant mobility scenarios. The respective sets of class interests and accumulation projects underlying the intersecting inter-national modalities of labour and capital are central to the analysis.