, Volume 97, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 9-18
Date: 01 Nov 2011

Ethical Pitfalls of Temporary Labour Migration: A Critical Review of Issues

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Abstract

The article discusses a particularly contentious aspect of labour mobility—state sanctioned and controlled temporary labour migration. In contrast to forced migration, which always has had a recognizable ethical dimension in terms of the universal right to asylum, temporary labour migration has tended to be viewed as an exclusively economic and thus ethically neutral phenomenon. This article presents a diametrically opposite approach to temporary labour migration: it is argued that this form of labour mobility creates a plethora of ethical challenges to the body which regulates it—the state. Furthermore, attention is drawn to employers’ rationalizations in relation to temporary migrant workers and trade unions’ responses to it. The article examines how these industrial relations actors deal with the moral hazards characteristic to temporary labour migration. It concludes with the exploration of the emergent issues in migration ethics and points out to a tentative research agenda.