So who is building sustainable development? Transforming exploitative labour along southern corridors of migration

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Human Resource Management

Abstract

There has been a 40% increase in the number of international migrants in less than two decades with 245 million international migrants on the move worldwide. The majority have their trajectory restricted within countries in the Global South. Increased border limitations into the Global North mean that the promise of humanitarian protection and assistance is also falling disproportionately on the stronger of the southern hemispheric countries that as yet have not the structures in place to respond to new arrivals. Simultaneously, public and private growth initiatives in the latter countries hinge on the availability of flexible labour for large, infrastructure projects

The Brazilian Amazon region is a key example of an emergent migrant destination. Brazil's impressive economic performance in the first decade of the 21st century has been accompanied by a positive rhetoric towards immigrants and the rapid expansion of the local labour market. Subsequent movement across the vast border that straddles seven countries and eight Brazilian states has been constituted not just by more conventional Bolivian, Colombian, Paraguayan and Peruvian migrants, but large numbers of recent Venezuelan arrivals, Haitian, Senegalese and Congolese migrants who have arrived in Brazil following rejection from northern borders. They all try to make a living that is so far characterised by precarious status and resources so far. Hence new zones of humanitarian crisis are emerging throughout the rural and urban landscapes, and becoming so far poorly understood corridors of weakly regulated labour recruitment. Through these corridors, informal and formal relations and contracts are channelled and combined, and lead to a critical deficit in so-called decent work in the very sectors on which the 'building' of sustainable economies depends. The key to sustainable development as defined by the ILO is thus not fitting at all.
This research explores increasingly dominant forms of employment regimes in the Global South where conventional distinctions between formal and informal work are over determined by local power relations. These relations are expressed in sectoral peculiarities for rapidly expanding infrastructure projects, and in the specificity of each individual's biographical trajectory. In key sectors of construction, energy and agroindustry, these new regimes depend upon, while sustaining, demand for flexible labour. Conventionally sourced from domestic migrant labour it is increasingly being recruited from the Amazonian frontier between Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and the receiving country, Brazil. An interdisciplinary research team will use a participatory and transformative research agenda that aims to investigate: (i) how a deficit in regulation and enforcement between formal and informal actors is turning humanitarian corridors into zones of social crisis for migrants seeking employment; (ii) to what extent the experience of exploitative work and labour analogous to slavery (work endured under threat of penalty, is forced, trafficked or involuntarily indebted) is a product of a series of informal and formal contracts along the migrant journey from home to workplace, (ii) how migrant workers, through collective and active knowledge building, can transform inequitable power relations across a range of spatial and hierarchical nodes.

The project seeks to understand the critical deficit in decent work from the perspective of those vulnerable workers most affected by current power inequalities across formal and informal recruitment and employment regimes to inform participatory intervention at a key juncture in Brazil's economic and social development. These migrants will be integral to the global workforce of 2030, particularly in emerging economies, yet in 2018 they remain peripheral to how this is discussed. This proposal take a significant step towards engaging peripheral migrant workers in transforming this reality.

Planned Impact

The project will benefit academic knowledge in the field of migration, employment and sustainable development; impact on regional and global understanding and hence policy development to address serious deficits in decent work in line with 2030 priorities; and social and economic development in Brazil in relation to the most vulnerable workers and industrial sectors integral to sustainable development. It will do so by the forms and quality of data and knowledge generation and the means by which these are shared amongst a range of stakeholders who will benefit in the following ways.
Firstly, on an individual level, for at least 180 migrants, experiences of injustice along transit and work that are psychologically challenging and often rationalised, normalised and reluctantly accepted will be integral to informing collective responses, hence validating personal narratives in overcoming dislocation and marginalisation. The project in turn will revisit migrant workers in temporary, inadequate and makeshift accommodation on the Amazonian border in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso, Acre and Amazonas and Roraima and these will benefit from knowledge sharing of the project outputs through booklets, film, a public presentation in each locale and the communication of rights in relation to status, formal contracting and employment in line with decent work agendas.
In three industrial sectors, and with the support of migrant support agencies and trade union partners, this will be directly shared with workers through the multilingual outputs, and again through the use of ubiquitous mobile phone technology.
Moving to the next level of engagement, government agencies with statutory responsibility for ensuring social rights of migrants at a municipal, state and national level will benefit from the knowledge on decent work deficit from a previously underrepresented cohort of the contemporary labour market. Through the specific workshop engagements and shared platforms, field trips and cultural, creative engagements to facilitate less formal encounters, the Ministry of Labour for each of the regions will engage with migrant worker representatives thus realising social dialogue that is a key deficit at present. On the basis of the data generated and knowledge co-produced by project team, the key priorities set by migrant workers will be addressed directly to the relevant agencies to inform changes to policy, the coverage of current employment regulation and transnational policy development on decent work, via ILO.
The knowledge sharing through direct engagement via creative workshops and public presentations, and through maximising communication of this through the networks of carefully chosen partners and new technologies will build a greater awareness among migrant workers of social rights and where to get support to ensure their rights are upheld. In addition representatives from the initial workshops will be elected to represent the outcomes to the key stakeholders, increasing these individuals' capacity for future engagement.
For four migrant representatives and two students, specific training on facilitation and transformative methods will be provided, increasing capacity for their involvement throughout project and thereafter.
Academia
The project uses state of the art participatory techniques and new technologies to contribute knowledge production from a poorly understood phenomenon in relation to increasingly dominant migration flows, employment regimes and inequality. Through international academic engagements via a major conference, presentation of the work in at least two further conferences alongside academic publication and popular dissemination through the website, podcast, film and social media this study will impact on theoretical and empirical advances in the academic fields that it cuts across.
 
Title CPEL website 
Description Digital centre that brings together research outputs from award alongside partner contributions 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Popular dissemination of research material immediately; attraction of four further international partners 
URL https://www.politicaleconomyoflabour.org/Events
 
Title Popular media centre and mobile friendly 
Description Popular media centre to communicate with research participants via computer and mobile phone 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Interaction with research participants 
URL https://www.politicaleconomyoflabour.org/Popular-Media-Centre
 
Title Trabalho migrante artwork 
Description Commissioned artwork to accompany and brand the research project, material and accompanying website; t-shirts , banners and posters 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Creative identity of project; consistency between activities and research outputs 
URL https://www.trabalhomigrante.org/
 
Description To date key findings include observation and documentation of a significant gap in the migrant protection provision as coordinated between Government, UN and charitable organisations leading to the discovery of slave like work for migrants who have already passed through these agencies. This has been raised with Secretary for Eradication of slave like work, National Migration Observatory and ILO towards a new migrant protection Protocol
Exploitation Route To date we have the commitment to co-develop a legal protocol at a national level to enhance labour protection of migrant workers seeking humanitarian assistance
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.politicaleconomyoflabour.org/
 
Description Our findings have provided foundation for forthcomiing inter-partner meeting between third sector; the representatives of three migrant organisations; Public ministry of Economy, and National migrant observatory. They have supported the establishment of a new migrant support centre in Maringa, and the sustainability of the Haitian Union support agency based in Sao Paulo. The work has overseen the establishment of first migration observatory in Amazonian region in Acre. The research has also crossed into investigation of sustainable alternatives for working livelihoods in Amazonian region and is the focus of next phase of work
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Amazonian land conflict and livelihoods
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Title Listening groups and migration 
Description To our knowledge the first participatory technique with newly arrived migrant workers that brings together international workers from initial contact through to informed intervention with government 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Collective group of individuals equipped to facilitate peer groups; bring forward findings from these fora and present to decision makers at regional, national and international level 
 
Title ESRC Sustainable Development database 
Description Cloud, password protected, database containing separated folders for : all digitised written, mp3, audio visual, photograph; ; pod casts; technical reports, and more than 100 interviews related to current ESRC project. Financial accountability and minutes of meetings also here. Training and facilitation strategies also contained here. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The database contains material under control of PI and Research Associate; partners have partial access where and when required and can provide data to centre. All stored in compliance with data management plan and Data Protection law 
 
Description Centre for the Political Economy of Labour 
Organisation Chile Sports and Cultural Development Association
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Garvey and Virginio co-founders of new international, interdisciplinary research centre
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at launch of centre 13 November 2019; contribution of presentations; participation in workshop and sharing data
Impact Website; media centre; colloquium
Start Year 2019
 
Description Centre for the Political Economy of Labour 
Organisation Confederation of Workers for the Public and Private Sector Mauritius
Country Mauritius 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Garvey and Virginio co-founders of new international, interdisciplinary research centre
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at launch of centre 13 November 2019; contribution of presentations; participation in workshop and sharing data
Impact Website; media centre; colloquium
Start Year 2019
 
Description Centre for the Political Economy of Labour 
Organisation Federal University of Mato Grosso
Country Brazil 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Garvey and Virginio co-founders of new international, interdisciplinary research centre
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at launch of centre 13 November 2019; contribution of presentations; participation in workshop and sharing data
Impact Website; media centre; colloquium
Start Year 2019
 
Description Centre for the Political Economy of Labour 
Organisation Sao Paulo State University
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Garvey and Virginio co-founders of new international, interdisciplinary research centre
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at launch of centre 13 November 2019; contribution of presentations; participation in workshop and sharing data
Impact Website; media centre; colloquium
Start Year 2019
 
Description Centre for the Political Economy of Labour 
Organisation Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Garvey and Virginio co-founders of new international, interdisciplinary research centre
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at launch of centre 13 November 2019; contribution of presentations; participation in workshop and sharing data
Impact Website; media centre; colloquium
Start Year 2019
 
Description Centre for the Political Economy of Labour 
Organisation University of Leicester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Garvey and Virginio co-founders of new international, interdisciplinary research centre
Collaborator Contribution Attendance at launch of centre 13 November 2019; contribution of presentations; participation in workshop and sharing data
Impact Website; media centre; colloquium
Start Year 2019
 
Description Inter institutional visit Xapuri 
Organisation Federal Institute of Acre
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Interdisciplinary visit facilitated via project to understand land conflicts and migration across Bolivian/Brazil border
Collaborator Contribution Previous field experience and contacts in this region; filmed interviews and data collection
Impact Publication in Brasil de Fato Pod ast in Tax justice network
Start Year 2019
 
Description Inter institutional visit Xapuri 
Organisation Federal University of Goiás
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Interdisciplinary visit facilitated via project to understand land conflicts and migration across Bolivian/Brazil border
Collaborator Contribution Previous field experience and contacts in this region; filmed interviews and data collection
Impact Publication in Brasil de Fato Pod ast in Tax justice network
Start Year 2019
 
Description Research Group for the Study of Space in Amazon (GEPEA), Federal University of Acre 
Organisation Federal Institute of Acre
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data presentation and sharing (ongoing); facilitated KE visit to the National Migration Observatory in Brasilia by partners, October 2019; B Garvey presented to Public Audience with Ministry of Economy and partners, 17 June 2019. Facilitated participation in all partner workshop with National Migration Observatory, Sao Paulo March 18-19 2020. Co production of article for the Conversation (see publications).
Collaborator Contribution Co production of article for Conversation. Facilitated field data collection; Partner hosted three day workshop and field visit to remote locations in Acre; involving researchers, stuidents, research partners; indigenous communities; rubber tapping and agrarian communities and trade unions; international organisations; and representatives from public ministeries; This included 1. Cáritas Brasileira Acre. 2. Altino Machado, journalist 3. Indigenous Collective do Povo Huni Kuî, 4. COMIN Acre, 6. Pastoral land commission Acre. 7. Rural workers trade union Xapuri. 8. Federation of Peasant and Indigenous Women Bartolina Sisa de Cobija (Bolívia). 9. Centre of Philosophy and Social Sciences Federal do Acre.
Impact New Migratory Observatory established; the first in the Amazonian region; November 2019; involves Geography Department; CARITAS; Ministry of Economy representative Inter-institutional Working Group in the State of Acre for Human Rights and Migration; 16 October 2019
Start Year 2019
 
Description Participatory, action research training 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Professional Training in listening, group and migrant experience facilitation took place on June 28 and 29, 2019 in the city of São Paulo with researchers, migrant workers and their associations and students
Tehis aimed to offer migrant workers and the research team complementary skills to work in their communities and to facilitate discussions with immigrants at a later stage of the project. The course was a course held at DIEESE headquarters and coordinated by Raul Araújo. These participants later facilitated the 'Trabalho Migrante ' workshops October 2019 and will be representing the work in future activity with decision makers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Trabalho Migrante workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In October 12 2019, 1356 migrant workers in Brazil participated in the "Trabalho Migrante" workshop in Maringá, Brazil . The festival of work and ideas Migrant Work sought to discuss the severe exploitation of migrant workers in Brazil and examine the potential of creative, interactive and participatory research to create critical knowledge and begin to transform the realities of immigrants. The event was attended by immigrants - women, men and children - originally from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, Nigeria, Colombia, Senegal, Benin and Syria.Through different discussions and creative methods, the research team - made up of academics and immigrants - asked workers to highlight their main challenges in Brazil and propose possible solutions to these challenges. The research team is committed to presenting the results - together with representatives of these communities - to research partners and representatives of the public ministry through a series of public engagement activities that will take place in Sao Paulo, 18-19 March 2020; Europe (Grenoble) May 2020; Brasilia (December 2020)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.trabalhomigrante.org/Events/festival-de-trabalho-e-ideias-brazil-october-12th-2019
 
Description Trabalho migrante 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In October 5 2019, 115 migrant workers in Brazil participated in the workshop "Trabalho Migrante" in Cuiabá, in the Brazilian Amazon region . The festival of work and ideas Migrant Work sought to discuss the severe exploitation of migrant workers in Brazil and examine the potential of creative, interactive and participatory research to create critical knowledge and begin to transform the realities of immigrants. The event was attended by immigrants - women, men and children - originally from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, Nigeria, Colombia, Senegal, Benin and Syria.Through different discussions and creative methods, the research team - made up of academics and immigrants - asked workers to highlight their main challenges in Brazil and propose possible solutions to these challenges. The research team is committed to presenting the results - together with representatives of these communities - to research partners and representatives of the public ministry through a series of public engagement activities that will take place in Sao Paulo, 18-19 March 2020; Europe (Grenoble) May 2020; Brasilia (December 2020)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.trabalhomigrante.org/Events/festival-de-trabalho-e-ideias-brazil-october-5th-2019