Global-labor, Risk or Opportunity?

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There are many term concerning labor. They are all started as academic terms and mass media have been using them ever since as popularize the terms. Migrant worker, global labor, forced labor, free labor, female labor, skill labor, and international labor are some of them to name a few. As we live around "fast-flows" society, people interact, intersect, intermingle and intermix with each other. There are 45 million new entrances to the global market jobs across the globe and the labor forces are growing even considering the global economic crisis. International policy portrays the world as a relationship within. Each member of this global village knows each other business just like their next-door neighbor. Each country has their own agenda to empower and develop the wealth of their inhabitant. The social nature of human as the inhabitant of country is to interact. The country as well needs interaction one another. The relationship between countries could be done through politic, economic, military, and educational type of interaction. Economic relationship between countries has been extensively increased due to the world financial condition. Every country tries out any opportunity to relate to international scheme in order to increase or maintain its welfare. Welfare affects people as a production factor. When one couldn’t taste welfare in their own area, he will seek out in the neighbor’s area. This phenomena lead to mobility of labor. Labor moves to other country to pursue better life on the other hand neglecting its own country welfare. The small quantity of labor mobility reduces the country welfare.

Basic Definition

Global labor is a term basically link back to its root of what is labor in general. Labor has been described long ago as the political economy professor from Trinity College, Connecticut defined the term as the application of power and device of man, to supply the wants and to gratify the desire of the race. Labor is a part of production factor in order to produce any kind of goods or services. It will grow from time ahead and in case other factors of production and distribution are organize in global perspective the global labor is in process. This global labor is valuable and specialty labor. They have the necessary skills and capabilities to work around the globe. They are varied from top level manager, political consultant, computer programmers, and biotechnologist to sports stars. We could categorize them into unskilled, semi-skilled and professional labor. All of them are mobilize themselves in the international labor market. The unskilled and semi-skilled usually land on the market through contracted scheme. The professional has higher bargaining position and academics and students fall to this category as well.

Global-Labor and Welfare

They are from their home country fly to different country to fill the demand of the labor market. Many developed countries are not only the one which become the target destination. It is obvious to say that developed countries open a wider market. There were 1.505 million foreign working in the UK in 2005. It was 5.4 percent of the UK employed population (see). It was quite significant considering the population in UK at the time. According to the statistic from 2006, out of 1.763.822 employed man In Austria, 234.506 were foreign workers.(see). The foreign workers in Canada were nearly 2.5 million in 2007. It increased 2.1% from the previous year. (see). The trend continues to increase until the crisis hit. The crisis will decline the labor force especially in Europe.

The studies in some literature about the motivation and reason behind the global labor mobilization are most of the time being related with welfare. The certain condition the origin country of labor brings some urges to grasp the opportunities elsewhere. Welfare is not only limited to wage however this seems to be the motive behind the mobilization. An illustration in the health field, nurse from Philippines earn $189 per month working in Manila. Filipino nurse work in Gulf could earn $570 and some of their fellow Filipino nurse work in US earns $3.000. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) sent home around 14, 4 billion US dollars in the year of 2007. Standard of living in the developed countries is another driving force of this global labor.


As many as 37,000 Pilipino has been flying abroad to find a better life through global labor market. Global labor market is growing not merely because of globalization. It has been a market since labor from low-wage nations looked outside their countries as the grass is greener. Even though around 70 per cent of the countries have increased its minimum wage as big as 5.7 per cent per year in real terms, the global labor market is emerging. Although unskilled-workers suffer the most, they keep coming in. From the farming field in America to Bangladesh construction workers in Middle East, their wages and working conditions are scary. It is well said that globalization has brought impact to labor market. Even though more goods are produced and manufactured in developing countries where labor costs are cheap, workers are going outside their country to find the better conditions. It is not surprising fact when we find tag label of any jeans, electronics, jacket, etc which say made in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, China, Thailand, etc. Services are also delivered and relocated from countries where it is possible for companies to cut cost. India has the largest call center off shoring in Asia. Inhabitants of those countries mentioned are still looking outside and end up in the different side of the pole to try they luck. Standard of living in the giving countries mostly is low compare to its receiving countries. One of the indicators of living standard is income per capita. Some low-income and middle income countries mostly supply unskilled-workers into global labor market outside their country of origin. Countries with income per capita less than US$ 975 like Bangladesh, Mali, Senegal, Myanmar, etc as low-income countries are “sending” their unskilled-workers without proper education and even travel document. (see)

Looking at it from worker’s point of view, just picture a shoe worker in America that has lost his job because of his company couldn’t compete with the low cost production in Brazil. Some Chinese workers who work for food industries drowned in the sea due to lack of safety facilities and bad working conditions by British gang masters. This chance of death on the job is probably never come across these workers who came all the way from China through illegal channel. The international labor standard has come to an ideal condition. Some of the workers are exploited due to their low bargaining position. It is inevitable that working conditions vary all around the globe. Some people try their luck by getting into some developed illegally. Some workers are willing to work for a decent pay even though the job is lower than their qualification, educational background and experiences. Potential risks to the receiving countries are numerous. A part from the classical phenomenon such as illegal aliens, some social risks could also pinpoint. This social implication does worth mentioning compare to global labor who gives impact in lowering the local’s wage. The impact to local’s wage is minor compare to the cost of social impacts.

The undocumented workers come from illegal entrance or simply overstayed their visa and take up some informal jobs. Based on the data from 1994, the number of the category of labor reached up to 3 million in both USA and Europe. This fact brings the implication in the labor market although only apply in the unskilled market. This number will bring the implementation of tight policies concerning the global labor market in the particular country thus at the end affect both sending and receiving countries.

Human being travel not only brings his body but also bring his value and culture. This fact could potentially resulted in conflict as interrelated with others. The conflict sometimes could be in direction to violent. Some forms of racism also are faced by workers and their family in the receiving countries. A common reason from the locals is because the global workers are taking away their job opportunities. Even worst is the act of xenophobia by narrow-minded local which resulted in a greater potential cultural conflict. The unskilled labor could at least work their way up by working on their next generation even if they have to work long hours under minimum wage in that country.


The global labor is expected to increase even though the economic crisis hit the market and inevitably will affect the labor market as such. The category of professional or even the unskilled one could taste the benefit from this global labor scheme. The professional could opened up and broaden up their opportunity to explore new multinational company in the different country. There is a sharp growing demand in highly paid professional. Multinational companies with branches all across the globe doesn’t pick workers only from locals. They are developed from personnel in multinational working environment. In the field of education some academics has benefited from this globalization. Some high level professor teaches in different countries and enjoyed many reward through advanced educational institution growth.


It is obvious that developed countries have a lot to offer when it comes to working condition and better pay. These dreams of a good deal of global labors who try their luck are not merely come true. Some of them could enjoy such luxury after they got the job offering. The rest are going to worst condition just try to survive and hang on to their illegal status. One clear pulling forces of this emerging trend is around the welfare issue. Receiving countries as well as giving countries need to work hand in hand to create a sustainable global labor condition. Receiving countries need to protect their country’s economic, social and political interests. They have all the rights to regulate any labor coming in to work in their territory. Such regulations like immigration policy, litigation assistance and workmen’s compensation laws have a potential to open chances to likely labor to get the opportunity abroad in a safer manner. Even bogus job offer for some people who don’t have many options will be a dream come true.

Giving countries could optimize their local regulation for example such regulation concerning document for global labor. Some of the biggest skilled and unskilled workers suppler such as China, India, Philippine, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, etc need to look more into tidying up their own regulation. Investing on education is an important aspect in regard to enhancing bargaining position of their inhabitant in the global labor market.

To take an example from Philippine, their worker has been all over the world. They treat their workers as income hero. They manage them in a sufficient way and even president of the country acknowledge them. They have professional from educational to hospitality industries, from Canada to Abu Dhabi, from cleaning service personnel in Munich airport to Registered Nurse in Mira Loma, California. Canada has released a demand particularly for 30,000 Philippine workers to fill in its job market in 2008 and has been in contact with the embassy of Philippine in Ontario.(see) International organizations which concern on the issue have also given their contribution by setting a global awareness campaign. The campaign through mass media and recommendation is needed to put a balance on the issue. All of this concern has to touch into application in the field. The risk of global labor doesn’t stop leading to financial, social and even life consequences with just campaign and press releases.

ILO is in UN wings has done some research in global labor market and opportunity. The negative side of the global labor has been its concern for instance child labor, forced labor and discrimination and also some legal assistance. Many more international or local organizations which normally NGO have been handling this matter. The opportunities of the mobility of global labor to fulfill global labor market are still high. It needs a global awareness of global standard in keeping it as opportunity before going to be destructive risk and finding a win-win solution to receiving and giving countries. We need them putting the effort more to minimize the risky working conditions, low wage standard and discrimination to workers.


  • Fuest, Clemens and Thum, Marcel,"Welfare Effects of Immigration in a Dual Labor Market", 1999. CESifo Working Paper Series No. 215
  • Colton, Calvin, “The Rights of Labor" New York., 3rd Edition, A.S. Barnes & Co.: 1846. Print
  • Castells, Manuel : “The Rise of Network Society” Cambridge, 2nd Edition, Wiley, John & Sons, Inc. 2000. Print
  • Stalker, Peter :”The work of Strangers : a survey of international labor migration”, Geneva, International Labor Office.1994
  • Jong-Won Yoon, "Beyond the Crisis: Toward a New Horizon". 2009.Paper published in electronic journal.
  • Enderwick, Peter ,” Globalization and Labor” Philadelphia. Chelsea House Publisher: 2006
  • Farrell, Diana ,” Offshoring: Understanding the Emerging Global Labor Market” Boston, McKinsey Global Institute, Harvard Business School Publishing: 2006. Print

See also

Creative Commons Author: Irmawan Rahyadi. This article was published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. How to cite the article: Irmawan Rahyadi. (16. 05. 2022). Global-labor, Risk or Opportunity?. VCSEWiki. Retrieved 09:47 16. 05. 2022) from: <,_Risk_or_Opportunity%3F&oldid=5500>.