Sunday, November 01, 2009

Temporary Workers Are Permanent? What A Surprise

As those three or four people who read this screed regularly know, thirty years ago, almost, I wrote my master's thesis about labour migration in western Europe. I studied the guest worker programmes, as they were constituted, in France and Germany. My conclusion was not earth shattering, that the policy of using guest workers was wrong headed in that it assumed that temporary workers would go home when the economy turned bad. It turned out that the guest workers wanted to stay even in bad times, because home was in even worse shape. So, they went underground, settled, and even sent for their families. In the process they created a black market in labour and a twilight zone for their illegal immigrant children. Really, the whole system was a mess, with illegal workers stretching back generations, being exploited by employers and resented by the general population. I recommended in my conclusion that the Europeans look at the North American model for immigration. I was so naive. Little did I realize that the Canadian government would look to the European model for inspiration -- with predictable results.
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