Foreign seasonal workers in New Zealand horticulture: an ethnographic account of the nexus of labour and immigration policies and employment practices

Seasonal labour Labour market Labour supply Labour mobility New Zealand

This qualitative study explores the nexus of labour and immigration policies and employment practices in New Zealand. This thesis focuses on multiple experiences of the foreign workers employed under the main labour immigration policies. The ethnography, using both observation and semi-structured interviews of these different groups of seasonal workers provided sufficient data to review and elaborate core theoretical immigration issues.This dissertation contributes to a growing body of qualitative studies on guest workers and temporary labour migration. My research provides an original methodological contribution by utilizing not only interviews but also participant observation including the work season before beginning this thesis. This dissertation is one of the few insider studies of foreign workers conducted by another foreigner. The main advantage of this methodology was the willingness of most informants to open their hearts to a person with the same status of a foreign worker who had similar experiences.Situating my research in an orchard, I aimed to explore how the temporary labour policies shaped both workers' experience with working conditions and their treatment by the employers. This research revealed questionable employment practices associated with rural work. These practices included visa-dependent controversial treatment of some foreign workers, misuse of the piece rate system, stereotypical gendered division of labour and even racial assumptions about the work performance depending on physical characteristics of different nations.

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