Learning from Migrant Labour Struggles: Innovative Initiatives of Precarious Workers

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30-17:20
RC44 Labor Movements (host committee)

Language: English

Migrant workers often contend with multiple forms of precarity - economic,  legal, social and political. This precarity is heightened by the current anti-immigrant discourse in many countries, with renewed calls to put ‘native’ workers first (not only in Trump’s USA and Brexit Britain, but also elsewhere in the global north and south). Moreover,  most established trade unions have tended to focus overwhelmingly on representing members who are citizens in relatively secure employment, and rarely organise, service, represent or advocate for migrant workers. Meanwhile, in the context of ongoing capitalist restructuring and the transformation of work, not only have precarious employment relationships become the norm for many workers, but union membership and power have been declining, prompting calls for union renewal and rethinking of strategies to rebuild worker power both inside and outside of formal union structures.


This session will bring together contributions from around the world that document experiences where low-paid migrant workers have been at the forefront of collective initiatives to improve their conditions, sometimes building new organisations, campaigns and struggles.


We invite papers that seek to address the following questions: What do migrant-led labour organising initiatives look like? How have they made gains and responded to setbacks or defeats? What are the possibilities and limitations of these forms of labour organising and the strategies, practices and resources that they develop? What relationships do they have with established unions? To what extent might these organising experiences be relevant to non-migrant precarious workers, inside and outside of unionised employment?

Session Organizers:
Aziz CHOUDRY, McGill University, Canada and Davide PERO, Nottingham University, United Kingdom
Andreas BIELER, School of Politics and IR, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Oral Presentations
Left out? Forgotten Struggle Histories, Perspectives on Old and New Approaches to Migrant Worker Organizing
Aziz CHOUDRY, McGill University, Canada; Manuel SALAMANCA, McGill University, Canada
Organization As Solidarity: African Migrant Workers in Germany
Faisal GARBA MUHAMMED, University of Cape Town, South Africa
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