Policy Briefing Papers

Decent Work for Migrant Workers: Rights and Justice in a Globalised World Order: Crisis, Migration & Precarious Work

By Patrick Taran, Global Migration Policy Associates

“Decent work for migrant workers in the current labour market”

I paint a picture of what’s going on and what’s at stake in the intersection of migration-- which is essentially labour mobility-- globalization of a world economic order and the world of work.

Starting with a brief definition of these issues should set the stage for this discussion.

Migration today?

ILO calculated that 105 million of the 214 million people living outside their countries of birth or citizenship in 2010 are economically active. That is to say: employed, self-employed or otherwise engaged in remunerative activity. That is about half of the total number and a very high proportion of those of working age. Given an estimate of one accompanying dependent for each active adult, over 90 per cent of migration today is bound up in labour and employment.

Economic contributions and the employment characteristics of migrants are central to labour markets and labour force composition, in more than 100 countries today. For example, foreign born workers now comprise about 10% of labour forces in Western European countries and around 15% in immigration countries of Australia, Canada and theUSA.

Taking account of the first and second generation offspring of immigrants arrived since the 1960s would give figures of around 20% of work forces “issue de l’immigration”in a number of Western European countries. Migration serves as an instrument to adjust the skills, age and sectoral composition of national and regional labour markets. Migration provides responses to fast-changing needs for skills and personnel resulting from technological advances, changes in market conditions and industrial transformations. In countries of aging populations, migration is replenishing declining work forces and injecting younger workers, in turn contributing to increased dynamism, innovation and mobility in those work forces.

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