One of the greatest problems that economic migrants encounter upon their arrival to their target destination is the lack of systemic protection. As outsiders, there are seldom any mechanisms to automatically watch over them, which means that they are left to fend for themselves. Without a reliable local companion to complain to and without contacts to inquire about the local laws and customs, most of these immigration employees aren’t even aware that they’re subjects of abuse. For instance, what goes for workplace abuse in Australia might not even be covered by law where they come from. With this in mind, here are several things that need to be done about this.
Undocumented workers have no rights
While most employers who use undocumented workers don’t have any malicious intent towards them and only rely on them for profit, the grim reality is that this often comes down to the conscience of the employer. Paradoxically, an ethical employer probably wouldn’t use this form of a workforce in the first place, which makes the situation even more grim for the employees in question.
For starters, they’re in no legal obligation to pay them a minimal wage and, seeing as how they are in desperate need for money, they’re often willing to agree to these terms, for the time being. This is a practice that even some of the largest conglomerates resort to.
Moreover, there’s a constant threat of calling the immigration control, which some of the worst employers even use as an intimidation method in order to keep their undocumented employees in line. Finally, there are no such things as paid vacation, sick leave or even medical insurance. This means that any injuries received often go unreported and, even worse, untreated. This is a catastrophe from both humanitarian and job-market perspective.
Seeing as how there are implications that things might go worse for them if they go to the authorities, most of these employers are free to practice this method of business infrastructure for years before they get discovered.
It starts much sooner
Instead of fighting this problem once someone gets hurt and abused, it’s important to understand that there is always a way of getting into a country by legal means. This alone solves and prevents most of the issues we’ve discussed in the previous section, yet, it requires a legal awareness that most of these migrants don’t possess. For instance, a proper course of action, when planning a migration, would be to look for good immigration lawyers to help you out. In this way, you get the legal advice you can carry past the borders, as well as someone reliable to contact if things go sour later on. Furthermore, this is a practice that entrepreneurs should resort to, as well, when hiring someone fresh off the boat.
Other ways to fight this
First of all, the risk that a culturally distant migrant will be bullied or abused is much higher than it is to a migrant belonging to the same culture group (U.K. or U.S. to Australia e.g.). This can be improved with an increased investment in cross-cultural communication and better team – building activities. The latter will allow immigrants to see their native coworkers as some sort of safety net, which, can make a huge difference on its own. Another problem with this particular issue lies in the fact that there aren’t nearly enough surveys and literature on this topic, which is why most of these measures get improvised on by organizations, individuals and companies alike.
Earlier on, we mentioned culture groups as one of the main culprits behind immigrant employee bullying, yet, sometimes, this might also be industry dependent. The agriculture industry, clothing industry and the construction industry are most prone to employee abuse (even forced labor in some parts of the world). Coincidentally, these are areas that employ people with no specific skills, which is often a category that immigrant workers fall into, due to their (potential) lack of knowledge of local language and customs.
On the other hand, even highly specialized immigrant workforce may encounter a certain level of mobbing in the workplace. This is particularly common in the healthcare, public services and education. The reason behind this is the fact that here, high – profile people work in an immediate contact with people who are of lower status (either by a dependence of them or their youth). Another reason why this happens is the lack of a sufficient number of adequately trained supervisors to oversee this situation. Either way, this makes it more likely for bullies to congregate in certain industries.
Past the obvious
Underpaying someone or denying their basic rights is not the only form of bullying, even though, it’s obviously the most extreme one. Yelling at someone, excessively testing them for no apparent reason, constantly criticizing a person and even monopolizing office supplies are also signs of bullying. Apart from this, open or overt threats (even when disguised as jokes) and aggressive emails might achieve the same effect.
The greatest problem with this is that, unlike physical, financial or work-law abuse, these aren’t as easy to pinpoint. Another problem lies in people’s lack of fate in the system’s ability or even interest to provide them with the same legal protection if they decide to interfere on behalf of someone who’s being bullied. This makes office abuse into a systemic problem since “If (the system) it doesn’t protect them (the abused party), why would it protect me (the witness of abuse),” logic is definitely tangible.
At the end of the day, while it is true that natives get abused in the workplace, as well, this is something that is three times more likely to happen to an immigrant. Sure, illegal immigrants are, due to the nature of their situation, most exposed, yet, there are some instances in which even legal immigrants might suffer the same fate. Unfortunately, at the moment, the safest course of action in these situations is the individual initiative, seeing as how system safeguards seem to be less than effective.