This week Professor Rosemary Owens and Dr Joanna Howe will lead an international workshop at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Oñati, Spain. The theme of the workshop is ‘Temporary Labour Migration in a Globalised World – The Regulatory Challenges’. Both Owens and Howe were the recipients of a prestigious grant from the Institute in 2014 to enable 19 scholars from around the world, including some of the world’s best universities such as Fordham, UCL and Oxford. Each scholar was asked to prepared a substantial paper addressing a different aspect of the theme for the workshop with topics including the link between temporary labour migration and residency, the role of enforcement agencies, the need to regulate labour supply chains and the economic/social consequences of labour migration.
The workshop aims to fill a void in the literature around temporary labour migration. Temporary labour migration in the global era has not previously been subjected to a sustained socio-legal analysis on a comparative basis, critiquing the underpinning concepts conventionally accepted as fundamental in this area. In preparing the workshop, Owens and Howe chose to adopt a socio-legal approach, conscious that the legal regulation of temporary labour migration does not evolve distinct from the political, economic and social contexts in which it is embedded. Nor can temporary labour migration be understood without an interdisciplinary approach as not only are disparate law disciplines required, but also the contributions of economics, political science and sociology. One of the attendees at the workshop will be economist Professor Martin Ruhs from the University of Oxford. Ruhs is the author of one of the leading contemporary works on the viability of temporary labour migration programmes ‘The Price of Rights’ (Princeton University Press, 2013). Two other prominent participants will be Professors Cathryn Costello and Mark Freedland (also from the University of Oxford) who are the authors of the primary legal work on the intersection of labour law and migration law, ‘Migrants at Work’ (Oxford University Press, 2014). The workshop will also involve a case-study element, as researchers from Italy, Spain, Austria, Australia, Israel, Sweden, the United States and the Untied Kingdom will provide in-depth description and analysis of how their countries approach the challenge of regulating temporary labour migration. An innovative paper to be presented at the workshop is by the Adelaide Law School’s Associate Professor Alexander Reilly on the topic of whether temporary workers should be given citizenship rights. The connection between membership, work and migration has been a highly contentious topic amongst international institutions, scholars, advocates and policymakers in recent years.