: Migrant worker recruitment in the Asia Pacific region

Migrant worker recruitment in the Asia Pacific region

Bassina Farbenblum
New South Wales

There are over 100 million migrant workers globally, many employed on temporary contracts. For numerous developing countries in the Asia Pacific region, labour migration is a key strategy for poverty reduction and economic development. Yet many low-wage migrant workers routinely encounter violations of their basic human rights and labour rights, as well as their legal rights under domestic laws and employment contracts. Such violations can often be traced to misconduct within the private recruitment industry, in both the workers’ home and host countries.

In October 2014, UNSW Law hosted the first international research workshop on migrant worker recruitment in the Asia Pacific region in almost a decade.

The workshop was preceded by a public symposium — the first in Australia to focus specifically on the challenges posed by privatised migrant worker recruitment. Discussion focused on migrant workers’ subjection to deception and improper fees during recruitment, and to workers’ common experiences of indecent work conditions, unpaid wages and employer abuse abroad.

Australia’s migrant workers — who include working holiday-makers, international students, and workers on 457 visas who increasingly perform low-wage work — also encounter problems not dissimilar to those faced by migrant workers in other countries, even though they are a less homogenous ‘migrant worker’ group.

BASSINA FARBENBLUM teaches law at the University of New South Wales and is director of the Australian Human Rights Centre’s Migrant and Refugee Rights Project.

(2014) 39(4) AltLJ 274
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