“It does not go as well as it could”: The Views of Melanesian Migrant Farm Workers of the Cultural, Economic and Social Benefits and Costs of Seasonal Work in New Zealand
Lepon, D. K. (2010). ‘It does not go as well as it could’: The Views of Melanesian Migrant Farm Workers of the Cultural, Economic and Social Benefits and Costs of Seasonal Work in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4988
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4988
New Zealand‟s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSES), launched in 2007, is an example of international short-term labour migration schemes that have been developed to solve labour shortages in the destination countries, especially in the agricultural sector, and to contribute to the economic development of the labourers‟ home countries. A review of the literature identifies four main issues that have been investigated: the strengthening of the economic base of the labourers‟ home countries, how schemes contribute to adult farmer education and the transfer of technology and skills, links between migrant workers and other development strategies, and the economic and social costs of workers‟ participation in schemes. Much of this literature highlights benefits to both countries from such schemes but there are a small number of critics who question the costs of schemes to the labourers and their home countries. Little information is available on the workers‟ own views of the costs and benefits of schemes for them. This thesis focuses on the experiences of a group of labourers from Vanuatu who came to work in New Zealand under the RSES in 2009. It asks: What are the views of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) Melanesian seasonal migrant farm workers on the cultural, economic, and social benefits and costs of working in New Zealand under the RSES? Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted in Bislama with 12 Vanuatu RSES workers in Northland in August 2009. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts identified four benefits recognised by the interviewees: earning monetary income for family and community back home, gaining useful knowledge and skills that could be applied back home, personal satisfaction from the work, and personal experiences of a new country and society. Four costs recognised by the interviewees were also identified: difficult working conditions, earning less money than expected, lack of freedom and choice with respect to aspects of their time in New Zealand, and the emotional difficulties of missing home and family along with implications for gender roles of being away from home. The interviewees lacked information and understanding about a number of important aspects of the RSES, and there were no effective mechanisms for them to raise and solve the problems they were encountering. This thesis offers a number of policy recommendations that not only support the effective operation of such a scheme from the host country‟s perspective but also seeks to ensure that such schemes are of genuine value to the participating workers, their families and their home countries.
University of Waikato
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