Essential Work, Disposable Workers

Migration, Capitalism and Class

By Mostafa Henaway  Foreword by Harsha Walia  

Paperback $27.00


Are you a student?

In recent years waves of migration from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa to Europe and North America have been met with a corresponding rise in anti-immigrant, far-right populism in host countries, placing the question of migration at the forefront of politics and social movements. In this sweeping account, Henaway seeks to understand these patterns through contextualizing global migration within a history of global capitalism, class formation and the financialization of migration. As globalization intensifies, workers everywhere are forced to compete for wages — not through foreign investment and outsourcing, but through an increasingly mobile working class. Henaway rejects the dominant responses of restricting or “managing” migration through temporary worker programs, proposing that stopping a race to the bottom for all working people involves building solidarity with migrant worker struggles for decent work and justice. Through examining the organizing strategies of migrant workers at giants like Amazon and Wal-Mart as well as discount retailers like Dollarama and Sports Direct, the immense power and agency of precarious workers in global companies like Uber or Airbnb, the successful resistance of taxi drivers and fast food workers around the world, and the contemporary mass labour movement organized by new unions and workers’ centres, Henaway shows how migrant demands and strategies can help shape radical working class politics.

Request Exam Copy


  • Foreword by Harsha Walia
  • Chapter 1: Neoliberal Migration Takes a Grip
  • Chapter 2: Financialization of Migration: Keeping Global Capitalism Afloat
  • Chapter 3: The Making of Migration Crisis and the Unwanted Migrants
  • Chapter 4: Managing Migration and Class: Trump and Trudeau, Both Want to Globalize the Kafala System!
  • Chapter 5: Precarious Work for Precarious Workers
  • Chapter 6: The Amazon Economy: Just in Time Distribution for Just in Time Production
  • Chapter 7: We Built This City! The City as a Sweatshop
  • Chapter 8:  Continuity and Change: New Forms of Organizing and Immigrant Workers
  • Chapter 9: Workers Centres in a Time of Crisis
  • Chapter 10: The Fight for 15 Immigrant Workers: Fight for the Entire Working Class
  • Chapter 11: A Day Without an Immigrant: Striking for Status
  • Chapter 12: Solidarity Summer and Great Migrations
  • Conclusion: From Movements to Power: We Are People, We Are Not Illegal


  • Mostafa Henaway

    Mostafa Henaway, a Canadian-born Egyptian, is a long-time community organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal, where he has been organizing for justice for immigrant/migrant workers for over two decades. He is also a researcher and PhD candidate at Concordia University

  • Harsha Walia

    Harsha Walia is a South Asian activist and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories. She has been involved in community-based grassroots migrant justice, feminist, anti-racist, Indigenous solidarity, anti-capitalist, Palestinian liberation, and anti-imperialist movements, including No One is Illegal and Women’s Memorial March Committee. She is formally trained in law, works with women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism (2013).

Subscribe to our newsletter and take 10% off your first purchase.