What MiWORC is


Labour migration to South Africa is both a historical and a contemporary phenomenon. While the country's wealth was built on the migrant labour system, current labour migration has profoundly changed. Migrants' origin, conditions, and sectors of employment, and status in South Africa have rapidly transformed since 1990 but these changes and their impact on the South African labour market have been poorly understood.

With the constant narrowing of legal channels of access, vast numbers of foreign workers are in precarious conditions of irregularity, underemployment, and exploitation. In addition, up to now, our understanding of how the more highly-skilled migrants find their way into the South African labour market has remained limited. This research consortium worked to ensure that existing statistical data is explored and improved, and accurate empirical evidence produced, in order to improve policy-making in South Africa and the region with the view to South African governmental decisions being able to make a strong impact on the reality of millions of South African and foreign workers.

The Migrating for Work Research Consortium

Building on over a decade of research experience in migration studies, the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at Wits University embarked on a partnership with a range of academic (GovINN, University of Pretoria; United Nations University – Centre for Comparative Regional Integration Studies; UNESCO Chair on Free Movement; Migrating Out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium, University of Sussex), government (Department of Labour; South African Local Government Association; Statistics South Africa), and international (ILO; International Organization for Migration (IOM)) partners. This partnership was expressed through the Migrating for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC).

MiWORC was based on a matching fund principle. The European Union, in the framework of the EU-South Africa Dialogue Facility (EuropeAid/132200/L/ACT/ZA), funded 50 per cent of the consortium. Beyond an ambitious scholarly agenda, one of MiWORC's objectives was to avail empirical evidence to the EU- SA Dialogue Facility. The EU-SA Dialogue facility is a bilateral on-going strategic partnership between the European Union and South Africa, and includes a range of key stakeholders in government, organised labour, business, and the NGO sector.