Globalization is producing novel occupational structures and changes in class and labour relations. These are particularly evident in dynamic urban settings such as in Singapore, Hong Kong and the major cities of Taiwan. The occupational structures of these advanced urban economies have diversified into an extended range of secondary and tertiary sectors. These offer better employment alternatives for local workers, but are also marked by a growing polarization of income and wealth. The interconnected industrial transformations of the region have combined to stimulate a surge in demand for low-cost service labour, satisfied in important cases by migrants. These labour flows are now a structural feature of major economies in the East Asian area, enduring beyond cyclical fluctuations in destination economies (Athukorala and Manning 1999). We can agree with economic liberals that ‘powerful economic forces are at work’ and that globalization is increasingly involving labour along with trade and capital (Cairncross 2002: 3). However, it is easy to see that each of these manifestations of globalization is managed in unequal ways.