Portable rights and basic income
Popular conceptions were turned on their head when the conference on trade union and human rights opened on Wednesday. One of them was the image of the migrant as poor and vulnerable. A group of migrants, a new global elite, carry their rights with them. Why not give portable rights to all migrants, suggested several speakers.
Four internationally renowned researchers were on the list of speakers when the ”Labour rights as human rights” conference got under way on Wednesday. LiU Vice-Chancellor Helen Dannetun, along with REMESO professors and hosts Aleksandra Ålund and Carl-Ulrik Schierup, welcomed everyone.
UNESCO representatives Raul Delgado Wise and Kenneth Abrahamsson also attended the opening. Then it was time for the main speakers who, as they put it, took the opportunity to provoke and turn some established conceptions on their head.
“Today the major migration flows go to countries other than we may expect,” said Stephen Castels from Sydney University (pictured left).
“The oil countries and so-called tiger states in Southeast Asia are becoming the major recipient countries as the financial global map is redrawn. Europeans are once again becoming emigrants. Today people from Greece, Ireland and Italy, Portugal and Spain are emigrating in search of a better future.”
So who are the migrants?
Well by definition, they are not a poor lower class. Professor Guy Standing from the University of Bath (pictured right) talked about the group of migrants who are a global elite, a plutocracy, moving easily around the world on behalf of international organisations or transnational companies.
Saskia Sassen from Columbia University introduced the concept of portable rights. The global elite take their rights with them, by right of being citizens of another country. Why can’t the same arrangement apply for all migrants?
Another idea is a basic income that covers the essential needs, regardless of what you do. Proffessor Standing revealed that an experiment on this is currently taking place in thousands of villages in India.
“The idea is to get away from a social insurance system based on having salaried work, to an unconditional basic income that gives people power over their lives.”
Sensational facts and surprising conclusions were served up at a fast pace, as is often the case when researchers have undertaken a considerable amount of research and thinking and present their findings in an extremely limited space of time.
For example, what does it mean for the European labour market that Chinese companies demand to be allowed take their own workers with them from China when they win major contracts in Europe?
And where does all the money go that migrants send home? Not just to poor countries, as demonstrated by Saskia Sassen (pictured).
Her colleague Ronaldo Munck from Dublin City University revealed that trade union membership in India has doubled over a ten-year period, from 12 to 24 million members. One of his messages was that the image of an international crisis in the trade union movement must become more nuanced.
- UNESCO-MOST Conference 2012: “Labour Rights as Human Rights? Migration, Labour Market Restructuring, and the Role of Civil Society in Global Governance”
- Vice-Chancellor of Linköping University Helen Dannetun
- Aleksandra Ålund
- Carl-Ulrik Schierup
- Stephen Castels
- Professor Guy Standing
- Saskia Sassen
- Ronaldo Munck
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Last updated: 2013-05-22