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Transnational Affect and the Moral Economies of Temporary Skilled Migration of Indians to Australia


Money, Career, Adventure. Industry expectation and opportunities. ... So, we have to travel in between for about an hour. Accommodation ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Transnational Affect and the Moral Economies of Temporary Skilled Migration of Indians to Australia

Transnational Affect and the Moral Economies of
Temporary Skilled Migration of Indians to
Selvaraj Velayutham Amanda Wise Centre for
Research on Social Inclusion Macquarie University
This research was supported under Australian
Research Council's Discovery Projects funding
scheme (DP0662967)
Key themes in our research
  • Motivations Methods of Migration
  • The Moral Economy of Migration
  • Masculinity and Migration
  • The Ethics of Temporary Migration

IT Workers from India
IT Workers Motivations for migration
  • Well travelled often worked in more than 3
    places over 5 years.
  • Mostly young, urban, this makes a difference

IT Workers Motivations for migration
  • Money, Career, Adventure
  • Industry expectation and opportunities. Flow of
    friends doing the circuit
  • Family money helping
  • Often start out by working with Indian company
    and being sent abroad for short time.

NARESH Most of my peers have ventured overseas.
In terms of attractive locations, the US is the
number one destination, followed by Europe,
particularly English speaking countries and then
comes Japan.. Australia is not very attractive.
One thing is because of the perception that the
taxes are very high potential for saving is not
as good as the US or Europe. Money is the main
IT Workers Means of migrating
  • Professional agents operating multi-nationally
  • Employed directly by Indian companies which have
    an Australian base. They contract workers out to
    client companies. So no direct link of employment
  • Implications
  • Relationships with colleagues minimal
  • Horizontal movement rather than vertical
  • Lack of care for employee wellbeing

IT Workers Employment conditions
  • Uncertain length of tenure Expect 3 years when
    they come, but companies needs change and can
    only be 3 months. Hard to settle.
  • Employed by Indian multinational based locally
    then sent to client companies on contract. Main
    base is the client organisation.
  • They are seen as simply consultants. No
    investment in their development as employees in
    the company or concern for their wellbeing.
  • Nor does their Indian (Australia based) employing
    company invest in any development of these
  • Many feel their career progression stalls.
  • Many feel like they are in a bubble, caught
    between the two companies

IT Workers Integration Experiences
  • No reception or induction on arrival
  • No knowledge of day to day issues of living in
  • No contact with work colleagues outside work.
    Feel like nothing in common

NARESH Other than cricket, I didnt know
anything about this placewhen I arrived in
Sydney, my friend came to receive me...not from
the companythey dont receiveyou have to come
on your own, even if you dont know anybody
here.theyll book you a hotelthat was it. Since
my friend was there it was easy for mewithout
him, it would have been very difficult
VIJAY it has been difficult, in my current
workplace, most of them are Australians
(Caucasians)we seem to have different
interests nothing in common as far as the
professional interaction is concerned thats fine
but nothing social.
Reka (VIJAYS WIFE) any get togethers we have
are with other Indian friends and circles we met
here we dont even know our neighbours. We dont
even know whos staying next door. At times, we
really wonder, what to do if we had an
emergency.we hardly even know. I think they are
Chinese next doorwe say hi thats it, dont
even know their names
Spouse situation
  • Wives
  • Feelings of exclusion and isolation.
  • Difficulty securing employment
  • Discrimination, qualifications not recognised,
  • Temporary status Employers mistakenly believe
    wives of 457s not legally allowed to work
  • Has bearing on whether they want to stay here as
    a family long term.

Reka .for the last about 8 months I have been
applying for so many jobs.out of that I have
just been called for 2 interviews.I would have
at least applied til today for 60-70 There was
one incident was so unfair. I have full
working rights as a spouse on 457 visa. I mean
there was a one day job at Franklin (supermarket)
for which I enthusiastically applied. And they
wrote back saying that I did not have working
rights. I told them I do have working rights and
they could cross-check with the Department of
immigration and they replied saying they didnt
have the time to check such matters
Blue Collar Workers from India
Blue collar workers Motivations
  • Possibility of earning more money than they could
    in India or Singapore.
  • More opportunities
  • Although not initial motivation, many hoping to
    get Permanent Residence in Australia
  • Few thought of Australia not on the network.
    Places like Kuwait, Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia

INTERVIEWER When you finished your studies, did
you get any opportunities in India? BALA I
had some but it was not good. I wanted to earn
more money. So, I went to Singapore. But the
money was not good. I cant earn enough money
there too. So I was looking for opportunities to
work in Australia. Bala, 30 is from a rural
village in Tamil Nadu. Middle caste. Family are
coconut farmers Previously worked in Singapore
for 9 years in shipping yard.
GUNA I am looking for better money and better
life which why I came overseas like Australia. We
have been looking for opportunities for quite a
long time. But it was too hard for us to get the
job. INTERVIEWER Is it common for Indian
foreign workers in Singapore to look for job
overseas? GUNA Yes. Plenty of people are
looking for jobs to come to Australia. Everyone
has been registering with emigration agent to
come to Australia. GUNA 28 years. Worked in
Singapore 6 years as crane driver. From small
town in Tamil Nadu (Tiruchi)
Motivations Kinship ties
  • Social norm (indeed pressure, expectation) to
    work overseas. Long history.
  • Most have cousins or siblings overseas
  • Family financial responsibilities
  • Helping parents out financially
  • Funding the education of younger siblings
  • Saving to pay dowry of sisters (up to 20-30,000
  • Paying back debts their own and family

Blue collar workers Means of migrating
  • Blue collar workers come mostly through agents
    whom they pay.
  • Very common pathway is through Singapore.
    Aggressive agents based there
  • In Singapore the agent charges 12,000. plus
    airfare Visa costs.

VIKRAM Everyone has to pay the agent if they
want to go through him. They have some Chinese
and Indian agents. But mostly Chinese. They
paste pamphlet and poster on the walls of bus
stops and living areas. They have a phone
number and we call them. We call them to ask
about the jobs and the pay and how much we
have to pay them and all the details?
Interviewer How much? VIKRAM We have to pay
12000 in Singapore dollars to come over to
Australia. The first payment I have to pay is
6000. Interviewer Did they explain what you
are paying for? VIKRAM For finding the job only.
Once the Australian government approve the
visa, we have to pay for the visa and airfare.
Means of migration (cont..)
  • Funded by borrowing from family and friends (who
    charge interest on the loans)
  • Some cases of employer (usually small business
    such as restaurants) going direct to villages in
    India to recruit.
  • Further payment often demanded for renewal of

VIKRAM When we come to Australia boss collected
money from our salary. The second payment for
6000 they did it through our wages. The
company, the immigration and the agent have a
dealing. So the company is collecting the
KANNAN The bosses driver went around to the
villages. This driver knew my father and told him
he was looking for chefs and cooks to bring to
work in Australia. He said this employer was very
kind hearted and helped many poor families in the
past. 24 Year old village boy from Tamil Nadu.
Recruited direclty from village by employer.
Blue collar workers co-ethnic exploitation
  • Pattern of co-ethnic exploitation
  • Employer (or manager) of Indian background
    leading the exploitative practices
  • Justify on the basis that this is what these
    workers are used to.
  • Cultural attitudes, caste and class relations get
    transnationalised in the global trade of labour.

Blue collar workers Work Conditions
MANI The company director during interview told
us they are providing the accommodation. It was
the first thing they mentioned. When we arrived
we were put inside the company. We did not ask
for anything. After one month, they forced us to
sign the AWA. Because we already signed it before
coming to Australia in Singapore. We refused.
In the second AWA, they wrote a condition that
we have to work for them anytime, anywhere they
sent us. And they said if I dont like working
for the company. They will terminate the contract
without payment and I have to leave the country.
So the first agreement never mentioned all this.
Even the payment also. Mostly we are working on
site for nearly 8 to 9 hours. After we have to
come to work in the factory. So, we have to
travel in between for about an hour.
GUNA We were living inside the factory. That is
an office which was converted they put in 3
beds and there was a kitchen and laundry all
attached. We slept together. 1 week later there
was another two workers. After 14 days, another
two arrived. Eight altogether
Sick leave and entitlements
MANI As for sick leave, one of my friends took
an Medical Certificate for two days. When he
presented the receipt to the HR department, they
did not paid for the sick leave. They deduct from
the annual leave. He take two days Medical
certificate, he has receipt also. But they deduct
from the annual leave.
Safety .
MANI We arrived here at night. The following
morning, they did some formalities such as
opening a bank account and signing of
superannuation forms. The next day, we started
work straight away. They never mentioned about
the safety rules or Australian standards. We
were surprised at the people working in the
factory. Nobody was wearing helmet. Everywhere
there was lifting but no one wore any helmet.
Even in Singapore, we have to wear the PPE
(personal protection equipment), helmet, and
gloves all the time. Once we arrived here, it
totally changed. The company to save money, was
doing such things.
Blue Collar workers Particular Vulnerabilities
  • Contractual and practical difficulties to find
    alternative employment
  • Fear of losing visa
  • Lack knowledge about rights
  • Limited support network
  • Family, money and kinship pressures

General themes
  • Issues that have emerged as common to both groups

Some final observations
  • Differences between IT workers and Blue Collar
  • Multinationals vs local employers
  • Sub-contract vs local employer direct employment
  • Local employers sub-divided into kinship vs other

  • Need to look beyond 457 as a single group.
  • Need to look at differences in terms of
    profession, employer and contract type,
    ethnicity, national origin, transnational
    connections, cultural influences, urban or rural
    origin, and kinship issues
  • These all have implications for vulnerability to
    exploitation, decisions and experiences of
    settlement and hopes for permanent residency,
    integration into Australia and the workplace