In this essay, Sergio Carciotto of the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA) examines South Africa’s temporary labor migration laws and how they apply to migrant workers from Zimbabwe. Carciotto makes the case that low-skilled workers, such as Zimbabweans, are not provided the benefits that high-skilled workers receive, particularly the opportunity to become permanent residents. As such, they are without leverage in the workplace and are subject to exploitation. Carciotto concludes that low-skilled workers who enter on a temporary basis should be allowed to apply for permanent residency after a certain time, in order to avoid situations of indentured servitude. In other words, the longer a worker remains, “the stronger their claim to full membership in society and to the enjoyment of the same rights as citizens.” He also states that such a policy should be included in the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, currently being negotiated by United Nations member states.
Kimball Baker (author of “Go to the Worker”: America’s Labor Apostles) examines the role of immigrants in America’s labor unions and worker centers.