The TFW program

My response is going to focus on the individuals who work in Canada, but who are not legal citizens. Instead of focusing on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program I am going to look at work permits in Canada. I have a close friendship with a individual who is on a work permit; we meet through my family when he came here from India. To obtain his work permit, which helps him become a Canadian citizen, he had to pay under the table to his employer and his lawyer an extra $10,000. Currently his permit enables him to work at a [*******] Restaurant in Williams Lake; however, he does not reside nor work in Williams Lake. The owner only fills out paper work that says he works for him; this is the choice of the owner. He has to work in surrey at three different jobs. He works at different gas stations throughout the lower mainland; his average pay from the gas stations is 8.75. In B.C. the minimum wage is 10.75; he is not able to complain about his wage because the gas station owner will fire him, and replace him with someone else who is also not a citizen. He has no rights because of his work permit. When any of his managers call him he has to come in for that shift right away. It is very hard for him to make ends meet; he works 60 hours a week, and at the end of the month he has barely made over two thousand dollars. When you factor in rent, transportation, food, and clothing. He is saving next to nothing.

We will look next at what structural Marxism would have to say about foreign workers. Structural Marxism believes that government works for capital, and to reproduce exploitative relationships. In capitalism the workers have to be exploited by the owners (Pavlich, 2011). Capitalism only works if workers are producing more value then they are being paid for.  For the owners Work permits, as we have seen, allow owners to gain access to cheap labor that they can control. They are over time able to gain repeated access to cheap labor through work permits, which is a government program. This show that the government is working to keep exploitative relationships in society. Because a worker who is a non citizen can be released from their work permit at any time, there is no room for workers to complain, or ask for raises. Structural Marxism would say that the government has made the system like this so that owners do not have to listen to worker concerns (Comack, 2006).  Because workers have no rights even thinking about a Union is out the question for foreign workers. Without unions workers typically receive less pay then those who are in unions. An intended consequence of foreign workers is to keep citizens from asking for to much from their employers. Employes will be weary when they ask for raises, and from complaining to much about working conditions because they will be wondering if they complain to much will they be replaced by a foreign worker. This relates to the idea of unemployment that is created by capitalism; in the back of workers minds they are thinking that they can always be replaced. Structural Marxism when evaluating any type of foreign worker program would say that it is created to keep inequality in society. Cain does not see the exploitative relationships that exist in society changing; capitalism will only change he believes when the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, want it to change (Pavlich, 2011). There is no reason for the bourgeoisie to want to change the way the system currently operates. They make great amounts of money; no one questions it because the superstructure makes them believe that this is the way things are supposed to be (Pavlich, 2011).

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One response to “The TFW program

  1. I think that the use of a descriptive case study in this post is very effective. You help us to personalize the topic.

    Your analysis is also good, though I would like to see some additional discussion of Marx’s understanding of the symbolic and ideological functions of law.

    Question: Do you think that Canadian workers who knew about the situation of your friend would express solidarity with him, or do you feel that they would regard his situation as unproblematic?