Transitional livelihoods: Timorese migrant workers in the UK.

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Wigglesworth, Ann ORCID: 0000-0002-8569-3410 and Boxer, Lionel (2017) Transitional livelihoods: Timorese migrant workers in the UK. In: 2017 Australasian Aid Conference, 15 February 2017-16 February 2017, Australian National University.


In Timor-Leste, the national economy offers few work opportunities. As a result, temporary migration overseas has become a significant source of support for family livelihoods. The largest source of migrant work for Timorese is the UK. A small study of Timorese migrants who have worked in the UK was undertaken in 2016. This included interviews in Dili with workers from UK who have now returned to Timor and with current workers in Northern Ireland, the location of the largest community of Timorese in the UK. Timorese migrants enter UK on Portuguese passports and, unlike the official migrant worker programs supported in South Korea and Australia, the UK migrants lack any official support. This study analyses migrant motivations and their experiences of living in the UK, the contribution to their families through sending remittances, as well as their engagement with home and host communities. Migrating to locations where friends or relations already live, Timorese live with little contact with their host community, most seeing it just as a place of work to earn money before returning home. Many workers have stayed many years in the UK, in order to contribute to the daily needs of their families, the education of their extended family members, house construction and establishing family businesses. The unexpected vote to exit the EU has thrown the future of this avenue of work into doubt. A number of families have chosen to bring up their families in the UK, resulting in different opportunities and expectations among the UK born and educated Timorese children. However, for the majority, a sense of obligation to their home country remains a driving rationale for their presence in the UK.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Timor-Leste; migration; social development; employment
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