Monday, April 11, 2011

I: International Students (and others). Bullying.

International Students (and others) are vulnerable to bullying in a number of areas. In general they have little idea of the expectations, laws, responsibilities and rights they can expect in their host country when they seek part time work to support themselves.

Employment conditions in the new country may include a minimum wage, paid annual leave for full time or part time employees, carer's leave, parental leave, freedom to join an industrial union or the right not to be sacked unlawfully. If you don't know about this, your rights at work could be abused by a predatory employer.
Unfortunately, some employers are unscrupulous and prey on new arrivals, convincing them that conditions are the same or worse than in their homeland.

Misunderstandings can also lead to a perception of being bullied when the dominant culture is not understood or doesn't live up to the myth. For example, Australians have a reputation for being extremely laid back, but has one of the highest populations in the world working more than 50 hours per week. Many international students are surprised that reality doesn't fit the myth.

Prior to the global financial crisis, 38% of Australians didn't take their annual leave compared to 13% of Germans. I suspect that figure has increased over the last year or so with more people feeling insecure in their jobs due to the overall economic downturn. People who are unable to change jobs easily are also more vulnerable to being bullied.

Employers may often observe other religious holidays through negotiation, but new arrivals are sometimes not aware that this needs to be discussed prior to an event, and not just take the day/s off. New arrivals have reported they believe they are being bullied when they have their pay docked for taking time off without negotiation.

Unscrupulous employers may also encourage students to accept cash payments - this doesn't go down well with the Taxation Department and may result in being paid less than the award wage. This is a form of abuse.

Some jobs are advertised on a regular basis. Beware! There is a reason for this which may have to do with either appalling conditions or a bullying boss.

There have been instances of newly arrived female students being targeted by men from their homeland. Some wait at the airports for incoming flights at the start of semester, meeting the girls as they disembark. Pleased to be met by a "friendly" person from their homeland who offers to help them negotiate the new country they may become victims of serial abuse and bullying...

Interviews: There are some vile brutes (men and women) who delight in belittling interviewees. They are scornful of the application, make degrading, intrusive and offensive comments and are proud to 'toughen them up for the real world'. These serial bullies have a new target in each interview, and do untold damage particularly to young people who go into the interview bright eyed and bushy tailed only to emerge crushed beyond belief.

One brute phoned the candidate after the interview to discuss how she could have improved her performance in the interview. He then proceeded to criticise her clothing in none too complimentary ways. The young lady wore a tailored outfit which wasn't a designer brand - she was a student after all!  There was no discussion of her suitability for the job, or her competence in answering his questions.

International students may have a lot of pressures on them from home. They're in a foreign country and many are expected to receive an education to enable them to get a 'good' job that will support their family when they return. Unfortunately the employers who prey on students can undermine not only their studies but their confidence which can have a negative impact both in the host country and on their return.



Here tomorrow: Journal


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There are many outstanding resources on line. A couple I find useful are Bullying. No way! an Australian resource for teachers and students, and a UK site Bully On Line. This is in no way an exhaustive list, and each country will no doubt have equally good or more relevant websites. If you're being bullied please seek advice from a professional health care practitioner experienced in this area.

Over at jumpingaground I'm spending the month Drabbling using alliteration, mostly with a climate related theme.
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1 comment:

Bernard said...
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