Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Inside the Mobilities Regime of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Construction Megaprojects: Experiences of Rotational Work Close to Home

Document type Article
Author Barber, Lachlan
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 81
Date 2018 Spring
ISSN 1911-4842
Pages 187-212


This article explores the experiences of construction-industry workers commuting to major project sites with a view to broadening understandings of the meaning and impact of the development of extractive industries in Newfoundland and Labrador since the 1990s. Theoretically, the article draws upon and develops the concept of “mobilities regimes,” a formulation that locates relations of power and inequality in the co-constitution of mobility and institutional structures. The empirical findings are based on research conducted between December 2014 and June 2016 as part of the On the Move Partnership, a research initiative examining employment-related geographical mobility (e-rgm) in a variety of sectors and provinces across Canada. The focus is on mobility associated with projects that fall under the provincial Special Project Order (spo) legislation. A total of 60 interviews to date have been conducted with workers as well as with key informants, including government officials, employers, and labour organizations. The central argument is that a mobilities regime is discernible not only in policies and project documents produced by governments, employers, and labour organizations, but also in the experiences of workers. These gendered experiences reveal that Newfoundland and Labrador’s spo projects enable people who may otherwise commute interprovincially to work close to home, but this work has contradictory meanings for the men and women involved due to the mobility it entails. By making visible the experiences of workers in the mobilities regimes of much-celebrated projects, the article encourages reflection on the effects on workers and their families of the underlying capitalist imperatives driving Newfoundland and Labrador’s contemporary economic transition.