Filipino dairy work­ers helped by law change

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Law changes pro­tect­ing Filipino im­mi­grants com­ing to work in dairy­ing have had ‘‘noth­ing but pos­i­tive re­sponse from both Kiwi farm own­ers and Filipino em­ploy­ees,’’ a re­cruit­ment ad­viser says.

Cross Coun­try Re­cruit­ment man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ben De’Ath said the law changes were brought in to pro­tect Filipino work­ers, and give New Zealand em­ploy­ers greater cer­tainty of the qual­ity of the in­com­ing worker they were hir­ing.

He said af­ter a few Christchurch in­stances where Filipino con­struc­tion work­ers were not get­ting their con­tracted hours and were be­ing housed in­ad­e­quately, law changes were put into ef­fect.

The changes were im­ple­mented by the Philip­pine Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (POEA) in Manila to en­sure work­ers were not be­ing ex­ploited while over­seas. This lets the Philip­pines gov­ern­ment hold em­ploy­ers who did not keep their end of the deal in terms of pro­vid­ing the hours and hous­ing they were obliged to un­der the em­ploy­ment con­tract, to ac­count.

The law change also meant the Philip­pines could place re­stric­tions on whether in­di­vid­u­als could leave the coun­try, re­gard­less of whether they have an ap­proved work visa. One of those re­stric­tions is that each po­ten­tial im­mi­grant must be at­tached to a legally in­cor­po­rated or ac­cred­ited com­pany with es­tab­lish­ments in New Zealand and in the Philip­pines.

Farm­ers need to be aware of this as they could go to sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts fil­ing Immigration NZ pa­per­work and get­ting a visa, only to have their em­ployee stopped from leav­ing the Philip­pines, De’Ath said.

New Zealand farm­ers can go through a process to be­come legally in­cor­po­rated but it re­quires ac­cred­i­ta­tion of the farm­ing busi­ness it­self via the Philip­pine Over­seas Labour Of­fice (POLO) which is lo­cated in Aus­tralia.

Amid the cur­rent mi­gra­tion boom of Filipinos en­ter­ing the New Zealand dairy in­dus­try, De’Ath said Immigration NZ has been ap­ply­ing greater scru­tiny in the as­sess­ment of Filipinos with Philip­pine farm ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘Farm­ers try­ing to com­ply with these leg­isla­tive re­quire­ments on their own might strug­gle to get prospec­tive em­ployee’s em­ploy­ment history ver­i­fied.’’

There had also been is­sues with a hand­ful of Filipinos ex­ag­ger­at­ing how much farm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence they had, which had also fac­tored into the clamp down.

Cross Coun­try Re­cruit­ment, which has a one-man of­fice in Manila, two ex­pe­ri­enced dairy farm­ers, a for­mer lawyer in De’Ath and the two re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tives who also have dairy in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence in their ranks, spe­cialise in en­trance and mid-level po­si­tion place­ment in the New Zealand farm­ing sec­tor, with par­tic­u­lar fo­cus in the Waikato re­gion.

Photo: SUPPLIED

Cross Coun­try Re­cruit­ment’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ben De’Ath.

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