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

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.3.03 (Tower One)
Tanya Basok, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada
In the last two decades temporary workers programs have experienced an unprecedented expansion in Western countries as instruments of what is defined as the "migration management approach." The implementation of these programs has shaped an intense academic debate on the relationship between the ideological foundations of the temporary nature of these new forms of managed migration and the recognition of the limits of migrants’ rights. Trade Unions have been involved in the promotion and advancement of temporary migrants’ rights, but their role in supporting or challenging the principles of temporary migration governance has been neglected in the scholarly literature. Based on a comparative analysis of the involvement of trade unions in the policy-making process and implementation of these kinds of programs in Canada and Spain, this article concludes that the degree to which unions are institutionally embedded, that is, involved in institutional decision-making on temporary migrant programs influences not only the strategies they use to protect and improve migrant rights (and their effectiveness), but the position these union take on temporariness as such. We conclude that it is not the "rights vs. numbers" dilemma (Ruhs and Martin 2003) that unions try to address, but the “temporariness vs. full rights” conundrum.