Journal of International Migration and Integration

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1271–1287 | Cite as

Rights and Restrictions: Temporary Agricultural Migrants and Trade Unions’ Activism in Canada and Spain

  • Tanya BasokEmail author
  • Ana López-Sala


In the last two decades, temporary worker programs have experienced an unprecedented expansion as instruments of what is defined as the migration management approach. Various migrant rights activists have voiced concerns about the treatment of temporary migrants in these programs and taken initiative to advance their rights. For some migrant rights advocates, it is the temporary nature of migration that is primarily responsible for the rights deficit. Yet, other migrant rights activists accept the temporariness of labour migration while trying to ensure that migrants receive legal protections for their work rights and that these protections are enforced. Trade unions are among the actors who try to protect and advance temporary migrants’ labour rights, but their role in supporting or challenging the principles of temporary migration governance has been neglected in the scholarly literature. The article addresses this gap by highlighting the divergent position of Canadian and Spanish Unions on temporariness of this type of migration. As the article argues, the difference is related to the following four factors: (1) the degree to which the unions in question are institutionally embedded in immigration policy-making, (2) the social environment (that is, discourses on temporariness advanced by other unions and grassroots organizations), (3) the degree of protectionism unions express vis-à-vis new immigrant flows and (4) whether regulated temporary migration is contrasted with permanent or unauthorized migration.


Trade unions Temporary agricultural immigrants Immigrant rights Temporary migration governance Canada Spain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, CriminologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography (IEGD)Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)MadridSpain

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