Prof Gregorio Billikopf, of the University of California,
speaks with Dana Arcus (left), of Grasslands Group, and
Virginia Dean, of Rakaia Island Ltd, while in Ashburton.
Photo by Maureen Bishop.
Employment issues in agricultural are the same the world
over according to Prof Gregorio Billikopf, an international
farm adviser specialising in labour management.
Prof Billikopf, from the University of California, met a
small group of employers in Ashburton last week as part of
his New Zealand visit.
He addressed delegates at the Australiasia Pacific Extension
Network conference, at Lincoln University, along with
speaking to staff from Lincoln and Dairy New Zealand and
''People in each country think that they are very special,
very different, very unique, whether they be from Russia or
Chile or New Zealand,'' Prof Billikopf said.
''But there are the same issues and they even use the same
expressions when talking about them.''
While he is an internationally recognised authority when it
comes to migrant workers in the primary sector, Prof
Billikopf believes employers should focus on good employment
practice, rather than good migrant employment practice.
''Of course there are some cultural things to consider, but
focus on what is good management practice for all
He also had advice for communities dealing with an increase
''When a community can help the migrant feel as if they are
part of the societal family, then we get success. On the
other hand, if the migrant feels they are a second-class
citizen, we tend to end up with gangs of youth doing illegal
things because they want to feel part of `family'.
''If we don't help people feel they have the human factor in
common then it can be very dangerous.
''We need to cross those barriers - don't feel arrogant or
superior, but get involved in making them feel part of the
community,'' he said.
The whole community had a part to play, from employers and
retailers and schools, he added.
Dr Rupert Tipples, associate professor in employment
relations at Lincoln University, said research conducted by
the university and OneFarm, the centre of excellence in farm
business management, showed that New Zealand was only
beginning to understand the social impacts of increased
immigration in smaller rural communities.
The research identified issues and recommendations on how to
predict and alleviate problems before they escalated.