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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Provision of labour rights to migrant workers. (PROMI)

Alternative title: Provision of labour rights to migrant workers. (PROMI)

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

This project studies Norwegian policy development and the efforts to combat the exploitation of migrant workers. It includes an examination of the effects of increased inter-agency cooperation, and control activities, in the fight against human trafficking, social dumping, and work-related crime. To put the Norwegian example in perspective, comparisons will be made with other Nordic countries. A starting point for the study is thus the assumption that the Nordic welfare states are similar in their approach to labour market policy, but that Norway, along with Sweden and Denmark, seem to lag behind when compared to Finland's significantly higher number of investigations and convictions for the exploitation of migrants. The project studies recent policy developments in the light of an international human rights perspective, and pays particular attention to the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICMW). This is the only one of the nine UN core conventions that Norway has not signed and ratified.

In a global context of anxiety over labour market developments, crime and migration policies are becoming increasingly decisive for workers’ ability to organize and access decent working conditions. The relationship between immigration status and vulnerability for exploitation is perhaps most acute for irregular migrants, who often find themselves in informality/illegality or legal grey zones. At a national level, the issue of migrant workers’ labour rights straddles the concerns of offering protection from violence and exploitation, while at the same time protecting national labour markets and responding to sector-specific demands for cheap and flexible labour. Conflicting priorities often produce contradictory legal regimes, criminalizing the immediate perpetrators while simultaneously restricting avenues for legal immigration. This ignores the evidence that shutting down legal avenues serves to further exclude those who find themselves in an irregular situation, rendering them more vulnerable to exploitation. One of the major challenges associated with studies of the exploitation of migrant labour is the low level of conceptual clarity, combined with a high degree of political complexity and tension associated with the language used to speak about migrants’ rights. To overcome this challenge, PROMI applies an innovative interdisciplinary approach to the issue of policy formation and implementation, in which language, organisational development and the law become important objects of study. Empirically the project investigates policies against the exploitation of migrant workers in Norway. To put the Norwegian example in perspective, comparisons will be made with other Nordic countries. In addition, recent policy developments will be studied within a wider international human rights context, in particular The Migrant Workers Convention (CRMW).

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam