Welcome to the IILME website and especially to our blog on mobile and migrant labour in times of, and beyond, COVID-19.
In the classic contribution by Castles and Miller (1993), our times were named “The Age of Migration”. We have seen for some years the tensions between policies to stop refugees from reaching the shores of Europe and policies to enhance labour mobility and migration. And in this context, the COVID-19 pandemic breaks out…
The COVID-19 pandemic plainly reveals that mobility and migration form a vital source of labour within our societies today. Where borders close and new borders are set up in attempts to prevent the virus from spreading, mobility and migration of labour across state lines is both restricted and enhanced. In Sweden, employers feared labour shortages where the summer harvest season relies heavily on labour from EU and third country states. Similar anticipated labour shortages motivated the “Feed the Nation” campaign, run by three major UK labour suppliers, to source labour locally instead. When air traffic came to an almost complete stop over the world, the Austrian government arranged to fly in migrant care workers nonetheless. Despite lockdowns, the German agricultural lobby convinced German and Romanian governments to create an air bridge between Germany and Romania, so that Romanian workers could be flown in for the German asparagus harvest. These are some of many examples where policies accommodate the persistent market demand: migrants are an essential source of labour.
Migrants occupy vital positions in our labour markets, in the care sector, as agricultural workers, or delivering packages or groceries, and the continued demand for their vital labour makes rules fluid. This calls for critical reflection on the position, conditions and rights of mobile and migrant labour in labour markets in times of, and beyond, COVID-19.
In this blog, we invite contributions from our IILME members on COVID-19 related and broader issues concerning migrant labour. At this point, we specifically invite contributions discussing COVID-19 effects on migrant labour, yet we are open to receive blogs on all topics relevant to the IILME-field. Contributions may be 1-2,000 words, ranging from academically grounded, topical developments to personal reflections on the role and position of migrant labour in our societies today. If you are interested to contribute, please contact us.
The IILME Steering Committee,
Anders, Judith, Katarina, Lisa, Rinus & Stefania