Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Medical repatriation of migrant farm workers in Ontario

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has published an article examining medical repatriation of migrant farm workers in Ontario. The upshot is this:
During 2001–2011, 787 repatriations occurred among 170 315 migrant farm workers arriving in Ontario (4.62 repatriations per 1000 workers). More than two-thirds of repatriated workers were aged 30–49 years. Migrant farm workers were most frequently repatriated for medical or surgical reasons (41.3%) and external injuries including poisoning (25.5%).
Medical repatriations is one of the ugly undersides of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)—get hurt on the job and your employer may put you on a plane home.

-- Bob Barnetson

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Voluntary codes of conduct in supply chains

The Journal of Cleaner Production (yes, that’s a thing!) has just published an interesting article entitled “Do codes of conduct improve worker rights in supply chains? A study of Fair Wear Foundation”. Factories and wholesalers often adopt voluntary codes of conduct in factories in the developing world when faced with allegations of inhumane working conditions (e.g., child labour, deaths due to factory fires or collapses). The question is whether these code have any real impact. This article suggests the answer is “not really”.

Here is the abstract:
The rise of private regulation of sustainability in global production networks has led to intensive debates about the impact of this regulation at the point of production. Yet, few empirical studies have systematically examined this impact in practice. Based on multiple factory audits of 43 garment factories conducted by the multi-stakeholder initiative Fair Wear Foundation, we show that codes of conduct improve (although marginally) worker rights on an overall level but that few significant results are found for specific worker rights. 
Our findings also lend support to the widespread argument that codes have uneven impact. Furthermore, we show that even rigorous multi-stakeholder factory audits seldom are able to identify process rights violations (such as those affecting freedom of association and discrimination), and that auditing is thus is more fundamentally flawed than assumed in previous research. Given companies’ extensive investments in private regulation of worker rights, the findings have important implications for both scholars and managers.
-- Bob Barnetson

Monday, September 8, 2014

Precarious employment in southern Ontario

Volume 22 of Just Labour has been published and it contains a series of articles examining [poverty and employment precarity in southern Ontario. Sadly, this will be the last issue of Just Labour produced.

-- Bob Barnetson

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hw the Conservatives expanded the temporary worker pipeline

The Canadian Labour Congress has explained the temporary foreign worker program in this handy little comic. A very clear explanation of the history and politics of this issue. Interestingly, they dropped the word "foreign" from the title. Happy labour day!