Reverse migration of labour

 Reverse migration of labour

Labour migration is defined as the movement of persons from their home State to another State for the purpose of employment. Today, an estimated 86 million persons are working in a country other than their country of birth. Despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, many migrants continue to experience numerous problems particularly more vulnerable groups, such as female domestic workers, entertainers and lower skilled workers. Organized and well managed labour migration has enormous potential for Governments, communities, migrants, employers and other stakeholders in countries of origin and destination. While job creation at home is the first best option, an increasing number of countries see international labour migration as an integral part of national development and employment strategies by taking advantage of global  employment opportunities and bringing in foreign exchange. In countries of origin labour migration can relieve pressure on unemployment and can contribute to development through the channeling of remittances, transfer of know-how, and the creation of business and trade networks. In countries of destination facing labour shortages, orderly and well-managed labour migration can lighten labour scarcity, facilitate mobility, and add to the human capital stock. To protect migrant workers and to optimize the benefits of labour migration for both the country of origin and destination as well as for the migrants themselves, clearly formulated labour migration policies, legislation and effective strategies are required.

International labour migration is a transnational phenomenon and therefore cannot be effectively managed or addressed only at a national level, and also needs to be addressed at bilateral, regional and international levels. IOM, through its extensive global network of missions is able to bring together stakeholders from countries of origin and destination to introduce and establish labour migration pro-jects, programmes, and mechanisms that balance different interests, with a special focus on addressing migrants’ needs. The IOM approach to international labour migration is to foster the synergies between labour migration and development and promote legal avenues of labour migration as an alternative to irregular migration. Moreover, IOM aims to facilitate the development of policies and programmes that are in the interest of migrants and society and that provide effective protection for labour migrants and their families.

Information and awareness raising IOM works in close collaboration with countries of origin and destination to prevent irregular migration, labour abuse and the misinformation of migrant workers through awareness raising activities and provision of information to migrants in origin, destination and transit countries. IOM implements activities to inform migrants about their future living and working environment prior to their departure and assists migrants by developing language training courses to facilitate integration in the workplace and host society.

General Causes And Work Conditions

In Europe and the Middle East, migrant labour usually has been recruited for urban rather than agricultural employment and involves longer periods of residence. In North America, migrant labour tends to be hired for farmwork, primarily at harvest time. The demand for agricultural migrant labour stems from the seasonal nature of harvesting. In the Northern Hemisphere, migrant labour moves seasonally from south to north following the harvest, while this pattern is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of these agricultural workers move in established patterns within these general directions, and their work typically involves tasks that are manual, repetitive, and easily learned.

Among the economic conditions that heighten the demand for migrant workers are rapid increases in agricultural production within a given region and a significant loss in the number of farm labourers—a condition often caused by higher wages outside the agricultural sector. While the factors that create the demand for migrant labour may vary, those behind the supply of migrant labour tend to be constant: in most cases, migrant labourers come to their work because of unfavourable economic and social conditions in their home regions.

The short-lived relationship between migrant worker and employer creates a disorderly labour market. Most migrant labourers have no reemployment rights, are usually not organized in unions, and have limited access to the job market. Middlemen, job brokers, labour contractors, and crew leaders add some order to the system. For example, labour contractors will recruit workers, transport and supervise them, and dispense their pay. Contractors also negotiate wages and working conditions with the employers. On the other hand, the wages, working conditions, and standards of living for migrant workers tend to be lower than those of other labourers, and migrants must often work long hours under exacting requirements. In some countries, child labour is widespread among migrant labourers, and even in the United States those children who do not work might not attend school, because in many localities schools are open only to legal residents. There can also be inadequate housing for migrant workers, and their literacy levels, social cohesion, and rates of political participation are low.

Employment Patterns In North America

In the United States, workers may winter in Florida to pick citrus crops and then, joined by others from Texas and Puerto Rico, move northward into New England as far as Maine, harvesting tomatoes, potatoes, apples, and other farm produce. Another large stream of workers from Texas sets out in the spring for the north-central, mountain, and Pacific states, harvesting fruits, vegetables, sugar beets, and cotton. A third stream of migrants harvests vegetables from southern California northward through the Pacific Coast states. 

Increased mechanization of farming has reduced the demand for migrant labour in the United States. Some migrant workers are American citizens of Mexican descent, while many others are illegal immigrants from south of the border. Most are males younger than age 30 and have less than eight years of schooling. In common with those of other countries, many migrant workers in the United States suffer from underemployment, inadequate housing, and exclusion from normal community life. They usually work for low wages and have average annual incomes that amount to only a fraction of those of most American workers. The lot of migrant workers in the United States has nevertheless improved since the 1960s, when labour unions and activists such as Cesar Chavez began to organize the migrants. In addition, some states and localities have established special committees to implement and expand social legislation that benefits migrant labourers.

Migrant Labour Around The World

Patterns of migrant labour on other continents have differed substantially from those in North America, with urban (rather than agricultural) employment accounting for a much greater share of such work. Migrant labour was used on a massive scale in South Africa, where black workers were drawn from rural areas to work in cities in which they were denied the rights of residency. This racially determined migrancy was a cornerstone of the apartheid system in the second half of the 20th century, which forced millions of black workers to shuttle between their impoverished “homelands” and the cities, where they enjoyed only the minimal rights common to most migrant workers. Apartheid was ended in South Africa with the repeal of social legislation in 1990–91 and the ratification of a new constitution in 1999.

More benign forms of migrancy flourished in Europe and the Middle East in the second half of the 20th century. Rapid industrial growth in the former West Germany after World War II, for instance, produced a severe labour shortage, attracting several million workers from Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Yugoslavia. The same phenomenon drew many workers to France from North Africa, Spain, and Italy, while Britain pulled workers from its former colonies in South Asia, Africa, and the West Indies. After western Europe’s economic growth tapered off in the 1970s, the presence of so many foreign workers became a source of social tension in some of their host countries. An even more dramatic example of migratory employment has occurred in the oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf, where millions of workers from Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries migrate to work in the rapidly expanding economies of Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Iraq, and Kuwait.

Migrant workers in India are involved mainly in the harvesting of tea, cotton, and rice. In Australia and the southernmost nations of Latin America, migrants work on ranches more often than on farms, performing such tasks as wool shearing and meat processing. 

Change in Income of Migrants after Migration There was a considerable change in the employment status and consequently income of the respondents after migration (Table 3). On overall basis, prior to migration 22.9 per cent of the migrants were unemployed, 42.8 per cent had employment for less than 150 days and merely 4.0 per cent had employment for 250-300 days in a year. After migration, the percentage of migrants who had employment for more than 300 days was maximum (41.0%), followed by those who got employment for 250-300 days (31.4%), for 200-250 days (19.1%) and for 150-200 days (7.6%) per annum. With this increase in employment days, the income of 34.3 per cent migrants increased to more than ` 50000 per annum after migration, while it was less than ` 10000 per annum for 48.6 per cent migrants before migration on overall basis. The employment status of the majority, i.e. 65.7 per cent of the migrants was less than 150 labour days in a year before migration, while after migration 72.4 per cent had employment for more than 250 labour days in a year. After migration, short-term migrants got additional employment opportunities (150-250 days) during peak agricultural seasons and they returned to their places afterwards. This all resulted in change in income of 46.9 per cent short-term migrants from a meagre ` 10000 per annum to ` 40000-50000 per annum for 28.1 per cent migrants and to more than ` 50,000 per annum for 18.8 per cent people after migration. Thus, there was a net increase in the income of the majority of the migrants after migration.

Previous Question                          


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.