Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From Migrant to Worker: New Forms of Migrant Labor Activism in Asia A Public Lecture by Professor Michele Ford

From Migrant to Worker:
New Forms of Migrant Labor Activism in Asia
A Public Lecture by Professor Michele Ford
27 May 2014 Tuesday 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
GT-Toyota Asian Cultural Center Seminar Room, Asian Center
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

Please click here for the audiovisual recordings of this lecture.


3:00 – 3:15    

3:15 – 3:25    
Welcome Address
Eduardo T. Gonzalez, PhD
Asian Center
University of the Philippines-Diliman

3:25 – 3:30   
Introduction of the Speaker

3:30 – 4:15    
Professor Michele Ford, PhD
Director, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre
University of Sydney

4:15 – 5:00   
Open Forum

Professor Jean Paul Zialcita
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Department of Political Science
Third World Studies Center
Asian Center
University of Sydney

About the lecture
Every year millions of people in our region—including hundreds of thousands of Filipinos—cross borders in search of work. Governments consider these people to be migrants first and workers second, and limit their access to basic labor rights accordingly. Until recently, civil society organizations, too, dealt with these foreigners as migrants. But now this has changed. This paper traces a fundamental shift in civil society responses since NGOs and international labor bodies began involving local unions in migrant worker issues in countries of origin such as Indonesia and the Philippines, but also in destination countries in East and Southeast Asia. Using a comparative case study approach, this paper interrogates the genesis of these initiatives and analyses their impact in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. It argues that, while much remains to be done, the conceptual shift from ‘migrant’ to ‘worker’ has created a space in which temporary labor migrants’ positionality can be re-imagined.

About the lecturer
Professor Michele Ford is an ARC Future Fellow and Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney. Her research interests focus on the Southeast Asian labour movements, trade union aid, and trade union responses to labour migration in East and Southeast Asia. Michele is the author of Workers and Intellectuals: NGOs, Unions and the Indonesian Labour Movement (NUS/Hawaii/KITLV 2009) and co-editor of Women and Work in Indonesia (Routledge 2008), Women and Labour Organizing In Asia: Diversity, Autonomy and Activism (Routledge 2008) and Labour Migration and Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia: Critical Perspectives (Routledge 2012).

Photos from the event