I wrote a post a few years ago sarcastically applauding Canada's enthusiasm for "temporary foreign workers."
Some poor schmuck in Indonesia who has a limited grasp of English, or at least a limited grasp of sarcasm, tweeted my blog to all his buddies and before I knew it I was inundated with queries about how a welder from Indonesia or Malaysia or half a dozen other countries might make their way to Canada.
Had I fewer scruples and more ambition, I might have replied to those queries by offering some bullshit "immigration information package for qualified welders." Yup, for a mere five hundred bucks I could have sent them stuff they could readily find on the internet for free. And thousands of them would have bought it.
I could have become a labour broker! Those desperate migrant welders could have made me rich!
That's what temp agency's are; labour brokers. Calling them slave traders is a bit of an insult to slave owners. Slave owners made an investment and had a vested interest in maintaining or enhancing their value. That required them to feed and house their slaves. The modern corporate employer has no such obligations, and the temp agency that sources the vast majority of employees today has even fewer.
Here's a story from the New York Times that contrasts the career trajectory of a worker in the pre-temp era to what's going on today. Forty or fifty years ago employers generally had some sense of duty to their employees. I remember when I was hired on at Kearney-National in Guelph back in '77, the woman in the HR office telling me, "welcome to the Kearney family."
I'm pretty sure nobody hears those words when they're handing in their paperwork at the Acme Employment Agency today. In the event, I moved to a better-paying family after a couple of years, but the point remains that the hiring process was qualitatively different when the employer was directly responsible for the hiring.
But, as Neil Irwin points out in that NYT story, the temp agency has allowed the corporate greedbags to run a more efficient ship.
Fuck the worker, and may God bless the bottom line!