Workers fight for the right
Migrant workers are banding together to stand up to the government amid fears they are being scapegoated for New Zealand’s problems.
They discussed their concerns at a meeting with activists and union representatives in Auckland on Monday evening.
Several dozen people attended the event, which was held at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby.
The Unitarians made national headlines in February when they offered sanctuary to Indian students who faced deportation from New Zealand.
Many of those at Monday’s meeting were upset by the government’s recent announcement of an immigration crackdown.
Immigration minister Michael Woodhouse claimed the changes would tackle both the number and quality of migrants coming here for work, but that was dismissed by Sunny Sehgal of the Migrant Workers Association.
‘‘I think it’s just a sham,’’ Sehgal said.
Others at the meeting described how migrant workers were left distressed and crying to find that under the new rules, they no longer had the pathway to residency they had been promised.
‘‘The government changes to the immigration rules are creating a great deal of misery for many workers and students in this country from overseas,’’ said Mike Treen, national director of Unite Union.
Unite Union’s Shirley Wang said many migrant workers had sacrificed everything for a chance at a new life in New Zealand for their children, and had nothing to go back to.
‘‘I think it's just a sham.’’
Several dozen people gathered at the Unitarian church in Ponsonby.