Seasonal workers are increasingly being used globally to provide a short-term workforce, filling positions in the labour market that are often difficult, dirty and shunned by native born workers. Seasonal schemes are promoted in typically economic terms, offering a triple win where the host society gains from flexible labour; the sending country benefits from remittances and skill transfers; and migrants themselves gain from access to the labour market. However, they have been found to support the uneven economic participation of workers in global production processes and they typically marginalise workers socially. Drawing from examples elsewhere and using Nancy Fraser’s three-dimensional perspective of social justice (2005), this article examines the prospect for developing socially just seasonal work programmes. It is logical that most societies seek to promote seasonal worker schemes that allow workers to be treated according to the rules of justice. And yet, research has shown the exploitation of many different types of migrant workers. Following Fraser, the article asks to what extent recognition, redistribution and representation can be achieved through seasonal worker schemes? It identifies key issues for consideration if social justice is to be upheld.
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