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Employers, Trade Unions and Labor Migration Policies: Examining the Role of Non-State Actors

Menz, Georg. (2007) Employers, Trade Unions and Labor Migration Policies: Examining the Role of Non-State Actors. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. European governments have re-discovered labour migration. The Italians have devised quota systems for the Mediterranean neighbours, the Irish government recruits nurses, Germany’s so-called “green card” initiative was aimed at attracting highly skilled employees in the information technology sector, while in Britain a points-based migration scheme will be introduced that is clearly inspired by similar schemes in classic countries of immigration. Even the French government, long ideologically opposed to actively managed migration, is facilitating procedures for the recruitment of highly skilled foreigners. Labour market shortages and advocacy from employer associations is sparking a remarkable renaissance of labour migration schemes. Trade unions notably support such calls for regulated or carefully “managed” migration, preferring it to unregulated labour flows feeding into black market economies. But “managed migration”, the watchword of new regulatory policy, is also associated with a more restrictive stance towards unsolicited channels of immigration, especially political asylum, and second order categories, including prominently family reunion. European migration policies are indeed “in flux” (Boswell 2003). But who drives these changes? How can we account for the “gap” (Hansen 2002) between restrictionist rhetoric and slightly more permissive practice? In this paper, I argue that the formation of labor migration policy, a core component of the new paradigm of managed migration, is shaped by the actions and positions of non-state actors, principally labor market interest associations such as trade unions and employer associations. The role of such interest groups has not attracted major scholarly interest1, perhaps owing to a somewhat state-centric bias in the literature on comparative European migration politics. It is argued that labor market interest associations’ positions reflect the national productive systems they are embedded in, operationalized in terms of the relative size of component sector of the economy, a low skill vs. high skill strategy (Hall and Soskice 2001), observed labor market shortages and reliance on the undocumented labor market. Informed by the comparative political economy literature it is argued that such production systems will influence employers and unions in the nature, skill level, training and magnitude of labor migration they will advocate. Thus, in high-wage high-skill countries such as Germany particular emphasis is placed on highly skilled labor migrants, while employers in Ireland and the UK will seek to recruit migrants at both ends of the skill curve. Liberal market economies (LMEs) commonly possess significantly sized low-wage low-skill sectors, which require labor demand, and will influence employer positions accordingly. Henceforth, different models of capitalism condition the demands employers and unions will make with respect to labor migration policies.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Labour migration.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > U.K.
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > lobbying/interest representation
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > Third Pillar/JHA/PJCC/AFSJ > immigration policy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > employment/labour market > labour/labor
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > employment/labour market > unions
    Countries > France
    Countries > Germany
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 37
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:51

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