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The University of SydneyPage 1 Are employer-sponsored visa schemes inherently ‘unfair’? Chris F. Wright, Dimitria Groutsis & Di van den Broek Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies A comparative assessment of the effectiveness of migrant worker protections
The University of SydneyPage 2 Introduction –Governments granting business significant control over immigration selection –Employer-sponsored (or ‘demand-driven’) visas designed to be responsive to immediate labour market needs –Migrant workers required to receive a job offer or sponsorship from an employer and maintain employment to retain residency rights –Employer-sponsored visas offer advantages in terms of labour market efficiency and employment outcomes for migrant workers (OECD 2009; Papademetriou and Sumption 2011; Sumption 2014) –But limiting the capacity of migrant workers to move freely and to exercise their rights generates ‘institutionalised uncertainty’ (Anderson 2010; Cangiano and Walsh 2014)
The University of SydneyPage 3 Fair treatment of migrant workers: A review of competing ethical frameworks –Martin Ruhs (2013) The Price of Rights –An ethical case for restricting the rights of temporary migrant workers –Workers gain economic benefits that may be harmed by a regime of equal rights –migrants gain opportunities that directly contribute to economic development in their sending countries through remittances –Rights = costs ∴ equal rights for migrant workers diminishes the appeal of temporary visa programs for the receiving country –Equal rights narrows the scope for migration producing adverse economic consequences for the sending country –Within limits, freedom of movement for migrant workers can be justified
The University of SydneyPage 4 Fair treatment of migrant workers: A review of competing ethical frameworks –Competing perspectives –Neerup (2013): the bonded nature of employer-sponsored visas inhibits the capacity of migrants to exercise fundamental labour rights –Walzer (1983): restrictions on the capacity of migrant workers to switch employers constrains their ability to exercise voice –Workers should have the liberty to change employers and move freely within the labour market (Budd 2004; Budd and Scoville 2005; Fudge 2014; Miles 1987)
The University of SydneyPage 5 Secondary questions –To what extent do sponsored migrant workers have mobility within the labour market? –What mechanisms exist to protect migrants’ agency, particularly their employment rights and their capacity to exercise these rights? –To what extent to do institutional differences, such as skills thresholds and the regulatory regimes in the receiving country, influence the mobility and agency of migrant workers?
The University of SydneyPage 6 Case selection and methodology –Mistreatment of employer-sponsored migrant workers most apparent in countries where labour laws do not comply with international labour rights (Baldwin-Edwards 2011; Fargues 2011) –Even in countries that respect ILO fundamental conventions, employer- sponsored migrant workers face vulnerability (Keeley 2009; Solé 2004) –Focus on visa schemes operating in OECD countries –Australia – Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (Subclass 457) –Canada – Temporary Foreign Worker Program) –Sweden – demand-driven work permit scheme –Analysis based on primary and secondary sources
The University of SydneyPage 7 Intakes under the main employer-sponsored temporary work visa schemes in Australia, Canada and Sweden, 2002-2013
The University of SydneyPage 8 Employer-sponsored visa schemes in Australia, Canada and Sweden –Overview –Mechanisms to support labour mobility –Mechanisms to support migrant worker agency –Institutional factors influencing migrants’ mobility and agency –Skills thresholds –Labour market regulatory regimes –Assessment
The University of SydneyPage 9 Conclusion –Employer-sponsored visas can offer significant advantages in terms labour market efficiency and employment outcomes for migrant workers –But narrow restrictions on that worker mobility (e.g. within the same industry and occupational mobility) difficult to justify –There may be a case for restricting the social and civic rights of temporary migrants, there is no case for extending this provision to employment rights –Restricted mobility limits the effectiveness of policies designed to enable sponsored migrant workers agency to access their rights and protections –Employer sponsored visa schemes can be equitable as well as efficient
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