Waylaid Dialectic

February 5, 2011

Exploitation and Seasonal Migration

Filed under: Migration — terence @ 7:45 am

A while ago I mentioned the degree of planning that had gone into New Zealand’s seasonal migration scheme – efforts to ensure that benefits for workers were maximised and the risk of exploitation reduced.

While I think the scheme’s a great idea, there is an inherent danger temporary migrant schemes: the migrants are never citizens, can’t vote, don’t have access to politicians (normally), and as temporary visitors may be unaware of legal protections available to them. What’s more they’re usually tied to employers so can’t just up and leave a job they dislike. And so they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

As I said in my original post, the New Zealand government of the time put in place safeguards with the RSE scheme to try and help prevent such exploitation.

Clearly, even so, exploitation occurs as is evidenced by Carmel Sepuloni’s post on Red Alert (see comments below the post for some more suggested incidents of exploitation).

Like I keep saying: there are no miracle cures in development; not even those beloved by economists.

Still, in this instance, there is an easy enough partial solution to the actual issue. Strengthen the worker protections, and increase funding to those organisations associated with ensuring this sort of stuff doesn’t happen.

It wouldn’t be that hard, although my guess is that, with the farmers’ party in power right now, and with government spending being reduced to pay for tax cuts, and with there being few votes out their to be won by caring for immigrants, these improvements are unlikely to take place.

On a slightly more positive note, it is heartening to see that informal channels have worked at least partially in this case: migrant worker contacts relative (NZ has a large Samoan population), relative contacts MP and MP does something.

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