Government must lift its game on migrant worker abuse

Labour is again calling on the government to lift its game in stamping out migrant worker abuse in New Zealand following yet more revelations of employer exploitation.

“Immigration NZ rightly calls this a hidden crime, saying it wants to want to lift the lid on exploitative practices,” Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Darien Fenton said.

“However, despite repeated calls from Labour for an inquiry into this abuse, the government continues to do nothing.

“Relying on migrants to come forward to make complaints is naïve.

“These workers are incredibly vulnerable. Their temporary work visas are held over them, they know little of their rights and, even worse, some of these people are actually paying their own wages to get work.

“What is really needed is a massive boost in labour inspection, a process of on-going monitoring of employers who hire foreign workers, more criminal prosecutions and greater penalties.

“Instead the government has halved the numbers of checks in the horticulture and viticulture industries, where migrants are particularly vulnerable, while a promised crackdown on migrant worker abuse in Auckland restaurants actually led to a reduction of labour inspections.

“The government can’t even tell us how many complaints it has received from workers on temporary visas about breaches of minimum wages or employment rights. Only six employers have been prosecuted in the last three years for breaches of minimum wages, with median fines of between $2,500 and $5,000.

“New Zealand cannot afford to gain an international reputation as an exploiter of migrant workers, particularly with the numbers of temporary migrant workers coming in for the Christchurch rebuild.

“A strong message needs to be sent that we will not tolerate exploitation of any worker. The government must get its act together and create some real policies to stamp out these practices.”


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