La Migra Archives

January 3, 2011

Contractors and contractees

This oughta be high on any new year's MNC to-do list: fix the cross-border skill-flow system.

Present systemic problem: the direct self-motivated flow of global south migrants up into the global north.

Under the present system migrants get up here somehow and find jobs somehow -- a "direct migration" system. Lots of 'em are completely unmediated by our squadrons of large MNCs. It's the transmogrified bitch spawn of our Victorian Lady-Liberty option. This hodgepodge of quotas violated, dark markets ignored, and undocs employed is co-joined to a system of professional clique-ogre'd restrictions on "scarce skill" markets, and hey, worst of all outcomes, the wogs stay here post-employment, reproduce, and further hyphenate the motherland.

Obviously this system has too much "self capture" for our present transnational corporate mode of social progress. The stinkin' migrant grabs too much of the benefit and retains too much control over the process of cross border movement back and forth, and place of final residence.

Millenial corporate answer -- how the MNCs can have it both ways:

Continue to get the ever-lower north skill pay rates, now produced by scattershot, free-for-all means, and also "capture", or re-capture, lots of the gains from trade in labor time now going to the migrant skillheads themselves. And, on top of that, the MNCs can tap the surplus latent in future cross-border migrations of "professional" level skill sets.

Watch what happens next. Here's one way: "contract-based movement as opposed to employment-based movement."

Sounds fairly innocent, eh? But note the detailing of features. Contract systems mean that "firms" can capture the differentials almost completely, and the corporates can counter Yahoo cries of cultural dilution of the motherland, since the migrants can't stay: contract terms "make temporariness more credible as contracts are time-bound."

Of course "contracts may be recurrent", i.e. permanent in effect. However, "once the worker reaches the maximum length of stay, he/she must be rotated."

The migrant gets the axe and a one-way ticket home. The corporate supplier gets to recycle the outsourcing -- get the grinder here?

"contract-based movement allows internalisation of some objectives that otherwise require regulation. For example, a common constraint on international trade in services is non-recognition of licenses and professional qualifications. Rather than require re-certification or the negotiation of (mutual) recognition agreements – a cumbersome and time-consuming process – a contract-based approach leaves it to the buying firm or entity to establish whether foreign suppliers satisfy prevailing quality and related performance standards."
Get it? the professional/guild regulations of the target national job market get blown to bits.

The important point here is these contracts are for skillsters, not wetbacks. The wetback undoc migration is still aces so far as corporate America is concerned. It produces lower wages, harder work, and, bingo! on the other side of the ledger -- reactionary nationalism-ization, if that's a word, of the native wage class.

What's not to like?

Even as the wetback undocs continue to flow in like drugs, to provide fury and sadism spectacle for yahoo kneejerkers, the professional class hung up on merit gets squelched too, because "Contract-based approaches can... easily be designed to generate incentives to encourage workers to return [home]."

(Love that word "incentives", as Torquemada said while oiling his thumbscrews.) Merit class foreigners from the global south are unlikely to recede into the chinaski shadow jobs once their contract expires, thumbscrews or not. But maybe they'll go home to re-up; and of course the whip hand here is corporate.

More nice stuff:

"As the contracts are between firms, the government can hold them accountable for performance, further helping to internalise incentives."
How is that good for MNCs? Well obviously this can as easily be read upside down and inverted, eh? "Gummint" can fail to hold firms "accountable", right? And which opption suggests itself to you as more likely, given Uncle's track record?

I like this sum-up:

"inclusion of temporary movement of service providers on a contract-basis as part of the liberalisation of trade in services can also help catalyse needed labour-market-related reforms in both origin and destination countries."
Exactly! Catalyse the capitalizin'! MNCs uber alles.

And oh yeah, in particular, for you meritoids of the credential sector: the contract system

"... would create incentives for governments in origin countries [and destination countries? -- Ed.] to design educational regimes to better fit the needs of the labour market."
The phrase "educational regimes" is remarkably candid, don't you think?

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