Blacklisting seasonal workers
This post examines the practice of blacklisting in seasonal worker programs such as Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE). Blacklisting occurs when workers are permanently or temporarily excluded from programs. It can vary from two to five years, or be indefinite, depending on the offence. The practice of blacklisting is rarely highlighted, and should be discussed as there are implications for all stakeholders. This blog raises these issues in the context of ni-Vanuatu in the RSE scheme.
The main impetus for this post is to highlight what happens when workers are blacklisted, some of the reasons behind this, and how growers are affected when perceived problematic workers are not reported to government labour sending units in future seasons.
Deported seasonal workers are well-documented within labour sending units. Currently in Vanuatu there are 106 workers on the Employment Services Unit (ESU) ban list and a further 1300 on the stand-down list . Although this number may seem alarming, it covers both the RSE scheme and the SWP since 2007. By contrast, inappropriate behaviour by workers is not always documented, and workers are often not penalised.
Impacts on workers
Blacklisting is a grey area. Although workers have been blacklisted for justifiable reasons, I have also documented cases of when they have not. Tanya Basok wrote extensively on how blacklisting was used as a threat to maintain compliant workers in the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). Many of these types of cases have been witnessed within the RSE scheme and SWP, especially the threat of being blacklisted, which is used to ensure workers are compliant while participating in the programs. If workers do not follow the rules of the program, or individual employers, then they are penalised through blacklisting: ‘The controlled nature of …read more