Rutana Travel on The practice of benching referred to here involves the holding in reserve of body shop workers, who are paid very small amounts while benched, for outsourcing to private and government enterprises. This system of benching and the creation of a virtual shortage implicit in it can be understood as a technology for the timing and pacing of it labor supply with respect to demand. From the point of view of the benched workers, this is a time of forced suspension in which their expensively acquired cognitive skills are frittered away but also continuously updated as they perform supposedly unskilled tasks, such as taxi driving or shop assistance. In this case, we see the operation of temporal borders well beyond the geographical boundaries of the nation-state.
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These are internal borders that are not spatial in the classical sense and that function to subject migrant workers to programmed delays that raise the price of their labor while also creating demand that facilitates further transnational migration within the body shopping system. What is important is that supply and shortage do not correlate in a linear sense, which means that the value of the benched labor power cannot be calculated within a national system of averages. There are also other factors operating here, not least the temporary status of body shop workers in the Australian labor market To understand these practices of benching, and the more general operation of temporal borders, it is necessary to interrogate the workings of contemporary migration systems and the changing role of skills in the global economy.
Rutana Travel 2016.