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Research Forum – Eszter Kollar (University of Leuven): "The openness-rights trade-off in labour migration and the joint demand of social and global justice"

February 05, 2019, 16:15–17:45
S 106 (FAN C)

The joint demand of social and global justice raises a difficult trilemma in the context of temporary labour immigration. Three normative criteria are particularly relevant for fairly adjudicating the claims of all those affected. 1) Equal treatment: Migrant workers, it is argued, ought to be treated as equals, having the same rights, obligations, and status as native workers, eventually put on the path to citizenship, consistent with principles of liberal equality in democratic societies. The political philosophy of temporary labour migration has dominantly focused on this first desideratum. The problem is that this solution leads to accepting less migrant workers with a more extensive package of rights, and raises a concern with reduced opportunities and resources for potential future migrants and those left behind in source countries. 2) Global justice: A commitment to improving the conditions of the globally most vulnerable populations requires that we open borders and remove the most resistant barrier in front of the “natural” flow of the global pool of talents and skills to promote more, and a better distribution of, global wealth. This solution, however, raises several concerns about its implications for promoting justice within receiving societies. More open borders generate pressures on the local economy and on welfare services, and is thought to come at the expense of the most vulnerable native workers. 3) Social justice requires that we safeguard and improve the conditions of poor and precarious workers within receiving societies.

Normative reasoning about the openness-rights trade-off, i.e. the number of migrant workers that should be admitted, and the extensiveness of the package of rights that is owed to them, presents a trilemma. I argue that in order to promote the equality of all persons worldwide and properly respond to the joint demands of social and global distributive justice, we need to abandon the first horn of the trilemma. Consistent with the equality of all, a more open labour migration regime coupled with highly qualified domain-specific rights differentiation between native and immigrant workers can be justified.

Verantwortlich für die Redaktion: Dr. Uwe Czaniera

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