Migrant worker policies and national privilege: A UK case study
After a long period of decline in the Global North, migrant worker policies are making a comeback on the agenda of the European Union and several of its member states. Inspired by Iris Marion Young and Nancy Fraser’s accounts of structural injustice, this article argues that such policies cannot be reconciled with the principle of equality between migrant and national workers enshrined in international legal instruments such as the Convention on Migrant Workers and the EU Seasonal Workers Directive. To make this point it draws on a selection of UK based empirical literature as well as primary data from a recent study on domestic workers admitted to the UK under temporary visas since 1998. Results suggest that such visas tend to push migrants’ working conditions downwards (exploitation); prevent them from changing employer, enforcing rights in court or mobilising in unions (domination); and ultimately exacerbate racial conflict and stereotyping (stigmatisation).
Received: 10 February 2021
Accepted: 14 May 2021
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