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Microsoft Word crm-ptmt el Salvador 2009[final]. doc

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Regional Conference on Migration

 

 

79

5. Possibilities and Limitations of Temporary Migrant Worker 

Programs (TMWP): Contributions to Civil Society Discussions 

Gustavo Gatica 

A. Introductory Notes 

There is an increasing awareness of the so-called market failures and the possibility of State 

interventions. Recent events in the North American financial market, with the impact rapidly 

spreading to the real sector of economy – and not only in North America but at a global level – are 

examples of these failures and of the relevance of State actions, particularly in terms of regulation. 

Every country aspires to be able to provide the basic conditions to ensure high quality 

physical living conditions for the majority of its nationals, such as access to health, education, 

housing, and a long and healthy life, to mention a few. It has to be said that many of these conditions 

are possible because of the employment – even if it is temporary – of members of the society and the 

benefits derived from it. 

To achieve the above, some objective employment conditions need to be reviewed. Without 

going into detail, a first aspect to be reviewed is the manner in which employment contracts are 

executed. Do contracts consider payment of and compliance with minimum wages? Are the labor 

rights of temporary migrant workers recognized? 

A second aspect is linked to recognizing the labor rights of workers in an environment which 

favors efficiency and effectiveness. Are labor rights a necessary evil in the production chain? From 

the perspective of employers, are labor rights a distortion of the market

Asking questions such as the above does not mean that aspects relating to workers' 

obligations will be forgotten. However, asking about the rights of workers does not seem to be an 

everyday concern in an environment favoring, above all, the achievement of higher profitability levels 

– which is a paradox, given the fact that workers are the ones who generate profits day after day! 

In a context where market deregulation, a minimum of State presence, and labor flexibility are 

insisted upon, regulating and monitoring temporary worker programs seems to be a necessary 

mechanism that needs to be urgently implemented to avoid that benefits which should be shared 

socially are monopolized by a few agents. The case of the labor market is particularly special. The 

aspiration to achieve a certain level of development and to develop the mechanisms – such as 

employment – that are necessary to achieve this requires a shared commitment by the State, the 

private sector, and civil society. 

The recent events in the North American financial market can provide valuable lessons. 

Today, allowing the market to guide speculative, commercial, or productive actions on its own does 

not seem to be a solid view; something more is required. Thus, the aspiration to achieve higher levels 

of development should be based not only on trying to achieve higher levels of economic growth but 

also on implementing mechanisms which regulate this growth, that is, mechanisms which determine 

the scope and possibilities of economic growth. Obviously, development requires economic growth, 

but not as an end in itself – it is a condition for possibilities but not an ultimate horizon. In today’s 

world, thinking about development requires the ability to consider heterogeneous interests and 

different aspirations. These interests and aspirations should complement each other in a similar 

process in the realm of legitimate concerns about human well-being.  

B. Notes on Achieving a Balance 

As a starting point, it should be mentioned that the discussions relating to temporary migrant worker 

programs urgently call for actions beyond those being implemented by migration authorities in receiving 



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