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Type: Thesis
Title: Picking winners?: New Zealand's recognised seasonal employer (RSE) policy and its impacts on employers, Pacific workers and their island-based communities.
Author: Bedford, Charlotte Elisabeth
Issue Date: 2013
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: Over the preceding decade there has been intensifying academic and policy debate about the migration-development relationship and a resurgence of interest in circular and temporary migration. This thesis provides an examination of the first five years' (2007-2OL2l operation of New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) policy, a managed low-skilled circular migration scheme that currently allows for 8,000 workers to be recruited annually for up to 7 months' seasonal employment in New Zealand's horticulture and viticulture (H/V) industries. The RSE policy seeks to deliver the triple 'wins' to migrants, origin and destination countries that were identified at the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development in September 2006. The policy has been recognised nationally as well as internationally as an example of 'best practice' in the field of low-skilled managed circular migration. The RSE policy is delivered through a system of relationships between employers, workers, and government agencies in a range of source countries, mainly in the Pacific region, and New Zealand. These relationships are examined at multiple scales: macro (national/international), meso (regional) and micro (household/individual) using concepts derived from systems theory and complexity theory. The RSE case study is situated in three contexts: theoretical (the migration and development literature); contextual (population movement in the Pacific lslands region); and empirical (labour supply issues facing producers in New Zealand's H/V industries). This thesis employs a critical realist perspective to explore the objectives and outcomes of the RSE policy over the first five years. Multiple methods are used to collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data relating to RSE workers from five Pacific countries, 1-6 employers in New Zealand, and key industry and government stakeholders in the source and destination countries. Data from primary and secondary sources are examined via an extensive process of data triangulation, to consolidate information accumulated over a wide geographic scope and timeframe. Key findings indicate the RSE policy is achieving its stated short-term aims of assisting New Zealand employers to meet labour shortages and increase productivity, while also contributing to development in participating Pacific countries. However, complex policies like the RSE are dynamic and there are tensions that emerge between different stakeholders' objectives. There are important positive and negative feedback effects that contribute to this dynamism, and these require ongoing flexibility in the policy's management. Managed circular migration programmes that involve mutual cooperation between governments of origin and destination countries, as well as between employers and communities that send and receive the migrant workers, have a high overhead in terms of the demands on government agencies to deliver the desired outcomes. They require continued investment and oversight if they are to deliver the expected benefits to all major stakeholders on a sustained basis. ln the case of the RSE policy, these costs have been outweighed by the productivity gains for employers, financial gains (in island-dollar equivalents) for the workers, and improvements ¡n living standards at the household and community level in participating island countries.
Advisor: Hugo, Graeme John
Rudd, Dianne M.
Ho, Elsie
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2013
Keywords: recognised seasonal employer RSE; seasonal employment; circular migration development; New Zealand; Pacific; Kivibati; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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