There has been a qualitative shift in the character of international labour migration with increased temporary labour migration. With circumscribed employment rights, the increased significance of temporary migrant workers underscores arguments that globalisation has engendered a more profound commodification of labour. The instrumentalist approach, especially of international financial institutions in promoting temporary labour migration as a panacea for development, reinforces this impression. Encapsulated in migration-development discourse, labour migration, like other commodities, is presented as a means of generating export revenue for the South. Karl Polanyi's critique of this market-defined construct of labour as a commodity, when labour can only ever be a fictitious commodity, provides a basis for contesting the representation of labour in the migration-development discourse. However, recourse to a Marxist method is held to be essential if we are to move beyond an appreciation of the process in order to interrogate the rationale that is driving the transformation of labour.