Travelling workers blur boundaries

Workers of the world are not so much uniting as travelling. Some 120 million
employees are classed as migrants in a new report by the International Labour
Office, compared with 75 million in the mid-1960s.

Cheaper travel and telephone calls mean that emigration is less daunting and
often not permanent, the ILO comments. Pay remains the key motivator.

The report comes as business is increasing the pressure on governments in
industrialised nations to loosen immigration controls.

Chief executive of the Industrial Society Will Hutton said, "There has
been an easing of quota and visa controls in Germany, France and the States. We
in Britain are going to follow."

The US issued 110,000 hi-tech work visas last year, predominantly to people
from India. "Indian engineers are putting some cap on what otherwise would
be explosive growth in salaries in Silicon Valley," said Hutton.

He added that liberalisation will be targeted at areas only where there are
skills shortages.

The ILO report also revealed the extent of smuggling of workers, reckoned to
earn up to $7bn for the US. "A sophisticated travel package for an
undocumented migrant from China to the US can cost up to $30,000," it
reports.

www.ilo.org

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