OHS of Samoan Workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme


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Dr F. Lamm
Department of Management
School of Business and Law,
Auckland University of Technology, Auckland

(P26, Thursday 27, Ilott Theatre, 1.30)

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  • This research has been informed and inspired by every researcher in this room
  • This research has been informed and inspired by every researcher in this room
  • Construction = France & Kuwait
  • Why did we locate this research project in seasonal work schemes?
  • There were also logistic issues, (rarely covered in standard research methods texts), that needed careful consideration. how does one go about capturing meaningful, robust data from a contingent, migrant worker population?
  • OHS Experiences of Samoan RSE workers needs to be viewed against the backdrop of the receiving country factors. OHS Kiwi fruit industry employs approx 20,000
  • Labour hire agents offer less in terms of wages and conditions than the growers Smaller businesses are often subsidiaries of larger businesses
  • OHS of Samoan Workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme

    1. 1. OHS of Samoan Workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme F. Lamm, R. Lamare, T.M. Laurenson, N. McDonnell, P. Schweder & B. Shulruf
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>The OHS status of migrant workers, including Pacific Island workers </li></ul><ul><li>The research that has informed this project </li></ul><ul><li>Background to the Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme </li></ul><ul><li>Methodological issues </li></ul><ul><li>Preliminary findings </li></ul><ul><li>Concluding remarks </li></ul>
    3. 3. Importance of the Topic <ul><li>The OHS of migrant workers is at the centre of a number of intersecting issues: </li></ul><ul><li>The increasing international movement of people </li></ul><ul><li>The vulnerable position in which many migrant workers find themselves </li></ul><ul><li>The lack of regulatory and social support mechanisms associated with migrant labour. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of rigorous injury surveillance systems </li></ul><ul><li>Over-represented of migrant workers are in precarious employment and are frequently exposed to hazardous conditions (particularly Pacific Islanders) </li></ul><ul><li>Higher rates of injury & illness of migrant workers compared to non-migrant workers in standard employment </li></ul>
    4. 4. Importance of the Topic <ul><li>The theoretical and empirical research on the health and safety of migrant workers is still developing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficulty in gauging the extent of the problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Orthodox, single-method, survey-based research designs often inadequate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(McKay, 2006; Vosko, 2007; Tinghög, et al. 2007; Anya, 2007; Lay, et al. 2007; Passel, 2007; James, 2007; Mirsky, 2008; Gravel, et al (2008) Quinlan et al, 2009, Toh & Quinlan, 2009,also see Health & Migration in the EU, 2007, CARAM Asia 2007 State of Health of Migrants, American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2010, 53 ). </li></ul>
    5. 5. Integration of Various Discourses OHS in Diverse Workplaces The use of Migrant Labour in Precarious Employment Managing Diverse Health Teams Psychological Contracts Cultural Diversity Migrant Labour In the Primary Sector Regulating Supply Chains to Improve Health and Safety Migrant Labour in the Construction Industry OHS of Child/Youth & Older workers
    6. 7. Layers of Vulnerability - See WHO’s EMCONET (2007) Sargeant and Tucker (2009) (also see D. Tucker’s precarious work framework) <ul><li>Layer 1 – Receiving country factors : Socio-economic conditions in receiving country, sectors in which migrant workers are employed; access to, and strength of, collective representation & regulatory protection; robust data bases; social inclusion/ exclusion; living on employer’s premises; urban/rural location ; role of unions/civil society groups, eg Church and community groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Layer 2 – Migration factors : Migration security, such as existence of legal status in receiving country; visa or non-visa status; whether status tied to contract of employment as well as the duration and conditions of right to remain. Role of recruitment agents and employers in migration process and the treatment of migrants. </li></ul>
    7. 8. Layers of Vulnerability <ul><li>Layer 3 – Migrant worker factors : Reasons for migrating, such as the socio-economic conditions in home country. The amount and ability to send back remittances. Current and prospective education, language and skill levels of the migrant . The availability and access to decent work. </li></ul><ul><li>Layer 4 – OHS factors : management commitment to OHS and well-being of their staff; level of compliance, effective OHS management systems, H&S worker representatives, level of training, level of understanding or effort made to educate in migrant groups first language. </li></ul>
    8. 9. Background to RSE Project <ul><li>Trying to link the various “dots” & generate coherent research agenda in the area of regulating the OHS of migrant workers </li></ul><ul><li>Begin to flesh out the layers of vulnerability & document the experiences of contingent migrant workers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the drivers for the immigration, employment & OHS policies and practices of the different parties -ILO, state, employers (top of the supply chain down) & migrant workers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the short-, medium- & long-term OHS implications for each of the levels (national, industry, etc)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How best to regulate OHS within small workplaces with diverse workforces – another level of complexity? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And how to capture rigorous data from a sample of employers & contingent, often “invisible” workers? </li></ul></ul>
    9. 10. Phases of the Research <ul><li>Phase 1: Develop a collaborative research agenda (meetings in Denmark, UK, NZ, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 2 - Literature view: multidisciplinary & draws on OHS, Cultural, Anthropological, Sociological discourses </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 3: Develop a set of research questions & theoretical model - layers of vulnerability </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 4: Develop an appropriate methodology (epistemology, sample, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 5 : Data Collection & analysis </li></ul>
    10. 11. The Rationale for Selecting Samoa <ul><li>Samoa has constitutional and economic links to New Zealand </li></ul><ul><li>Samoans constitute the largest Pacific Island ethnic group in New Zealand, comprising 131,103 or 49% of the resident Pacific population (265,974) (Statistics New Zealand, 2010). </li></ul><ul><li>The “Samoan Quota” allows up to 1,100 Samoans, including their partners and dependent children, to be granted residence in NZ each year. </li></ul><ul><li>Between 2008-2009, 1,122 people were approved for residence through the Samoan. </li></ul>
    11. 12. Seasonal Work Schemes <ul><li>Casual migrant workers, some of whom are from the Pacific Islands, make up a significant proportion of NZ’s primary sector labour force. </li></ul><ul><li>It is estimated that NZ has 40,000 seasonal jobs with 30,000 of these located in the forestry and horticulture sectors, and 10,000 in the sheep shearing industry </li></ul><ul><li>In 2007 a labour migration scheme, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE), was launched in response to a labour shortage in the horticultural and viticulture sectors. </li></ul><ul><li>The RSE scheme gives priority access to Pacific workers, including Samoans, & allows for up to 8,000 workers to be employed within. </li></ul>
    12. 13. Benefits of the RSE <ul><li>Reliable supply of semi/skilled, hard working compliant, cohesive labour gangs </li></ul><ul><li>Training is an integral part of the scheme & up-skilling the workforce seen as beneficial for both employers and employees </li></ul><ul><li>The RSE scheme has strengthened a tripartite, industry-wide partnership </li></ul><ul><li>It was also introduced to deter the exploitative labour hire practices </li></ul><ul><li>The scheme has become a de facto aid programme by injecting much need remittances into the participating Pacific Island economies </li></ul>
    13. 14. RSE Scheme – Key Players <ul><li>The RSE scheme is unique in that it involves 111 employers and 3 Government agencies: </li></ul><ul><li>the Ministry of Social Development (which includes Work and Income New Zealand, the agency responsible for assessing employment outcomes and benefits); </li></ul><ul><li>The Department of Labour (which is responsible for immigration, employment and OHS) has the main responsibility for the administrating the RSE scheme; and </li></ul><ul><li>NZAID manages New Zealand’s official overseas aid programme (Bedford, 2008). </li></ul>
    14. 16. RSE Requirements <ul><li>Employers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To meet the policy definition of a NZ “employer” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To have a high standard of HR policies and practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To have good work practices, including OHS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To be committed to recruiting and training NZ’ers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To be in a sound financial position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To be willing to pay market rates and “take care” of their RSE workers (Department of Labour, 2009a) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Employees: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fit and healthy and of good character </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give an undertaking to return to country of origin </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Question: Where and who makes that assessment? </li></ul>
    15. 18. Methodology <ul><li>Triangulated and primarily qualitative </li></ul><ul><li>The data collection needed to occur at several critical points: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Point of departure before the migrant worker left their country of origin; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the point of working in NZ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Point of residing back in their country of origin. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Samoan RSE workers: 300 participants (pop 1,200 approx) </li></ul><ul><li>RSE employers: 60 participants (pop 111) </li></ul>
    16. 19. Methodology: Sample & data collection <ul><li>The groups of interviewees comprise of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1) Key stakeholders; 2) employers; 3) employees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The use the government registration data bases of businesses and Samoan employees to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>identify a sample of interviewees & </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>track and record pre-, present and post-working experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sample is non-randomised but selected to represent the population. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Face-to-face interviews using a semi-structured interview schedule will be applied . </li></ul>
    17. 20. Key Stakeholders Samoa New Zealand Australia Researchers ( DoL; Bedford, et al; Maclellan & Mares; Lovelock) Samoa New Zealand Industry Associations Samoa New Zealand Government Agents Pacific Region ILO Samoa New Zealand Politicians
    18. 21. Interviewees <ul><li>SusugaTuatagaloa Aumua Ming Leung Wai – Attorney General </li></ul><ul><li>His Excellency Mr Nick Hurley, New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa </li></ul><ul><li>Afioga Fiu Leapai Tuua ‘Īlaoa Lau Asofou So’o – Vice Chancellor & President: National University of Samoa </li></ul><ul><li>Susuga Eseta Faafeu-Hope, Dean: Faculty of Applied Sciences: National University of Samoa </li></ul><ul><li>Afioga Magele Tafafunai Mauiliu Magele, Hon Minister of Education, Sports & Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Susuga Tuatagaloa E.N [Joe] Annandale – Managing Director: Sinalei Reef Resort, Siumu and Regional Seasonal Employment Scheme, Falealili District </li></ul>
    19. 22. Methodology: Logistics <ul><li>Ethics approval : complex and it dictates how, what and by whom will conduct the research </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural factors : cultural sensitivities (don’t want Margaret Meads affect) and social order (matai), translators, different government styles (eg Samoan elections) </li></ul><ul><li>Building Partnerships: Pacifika have equal say and involvement in the research </li></ul><ul><li>Distances : migrant workers are geographically scattered, difficult to locate and interview </li></ul><ul><li>Research Team : different perspectives on “cultural”, methodological approaches, etc </li></ul>
    20. 23. Preliminary Findings <ul><li>Layer 1 – Receiving country factors : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic downturn & resultant state sector cuts (state sponsored OHS training?), diminishing wages & conditions for low wage earners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weak regulatory inspectorate (heavy reliance on self-reporting) – although RSE has designated DoL staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weak/non-existent collective representation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turbulent horticulture and viticulture markets ($, disease, etc = decline in jobs & rise in unemployment ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inconsistent social inclusion – but improving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competing labour groups: eg transient migrants (student migrant workers), local Iwi, etc which creates tensions </li></ul></ul>
    21. 24. Preliminary Findings <ul><li>Layer 2 – Migration factors : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State supported scheme that dictates the duration of stay, wages and conditions but also sanctions the use of a disposable workforce to undertake dirty, dangerous, demining & monotonous jobs – NZ historical position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Role of labour hire agents vs growers in migration process & the treatment of migrants = complex dynamics both in Samoa and NZ (refer to prosecution cases) (see Underhill, 2004, 2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small workplaces versus larger companies (different issues?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Little or no thought to what are the short-, medium & long-term OHS implications for contingent migrant workers? </li></ul></ul>
    22. 25. Preliminary Findings <ul><li>Layer 3 – Migrant worker factors : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ability to earn large amounts of $ in a short space of time (but at the expense of their health?); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possibility to increase language, work & OHS skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But the depletion of labour, mainly young men, from Samoa puts pressure on the aging workforce & social cohesion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No access to NZ workers’ comp & suspension of workers’ superannuation contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pressure between informal and formal economies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are conditions in NZ are a vast improvement to those in Samoa? </li></ul></ul>
    23. 26. Preliminary Findings <ul><li>Layer 4 – Regulating OHS : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Within the industry there are varying levels of compliance with the HSE Act, 1992 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>On average has been 60-100 injuries out of approx 6,000 RSE workers (interview notes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OHS training pre-departure is inconsistent but has improved in NZ (but for how long?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transfer of poor OHS practices from Samoa to NZ </li></ul></ul>
    24. 27. Preliminary Findings <ul><ul><li>Layer 4 – Regulating OHS (cont) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there an emphasis on quality of the product vs the quality of work? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Managing OHS with a culturally diverse workforce eg cultural etiquette: total deference to one’s senior (employer) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some evidence that employees have difficulty in accessing their OHS rights and entitlements (isolation, language, knowledge) – but this needs further investigation (see Toh & Quinlan, 2009) </li></ul></ul>
    25. 28. Concluding Remarks <ul><li>While there are economic benefits with the RSE scheme, it raises concerns. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State sanctioned scheme to import disposable labour who have to forfeit their right to immigrate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OHS regulatory agencies in both NZ and Pacifika under pressure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The vagaries of the horticultural and viticulture markets means that jobs, wages and conditions will fluctuate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Piece work is prevalent in horticulture harvest jobs & is often related to poor OHS outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How are chronically injured migrant workers managed? </li></ul></ul>
    26. 29. Summary <ul><li>This study is part of a wider concern – namely regulating the OHS of vulnerable migrant workers </li></ul><ul><li>It provides an opportunity to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Track migrant workers in order to identify the range of OHS implications over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interview migrants in their own language & within their own culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examine 2 different regulatory regimes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Add to Sargeant and Tucker model. </li></ul></ul>
    27. 30. THANK YOU Questions?