Illegal tradies deported
Immigration New Zealand wants construction firms to check the legitimacy of their contracted workers after an investigation unveiled a web of illegal Malaysian workers.
Immigration NZ carried out raids and home searches to dismantle 10 tiling, painting, decorating and gib-stopping labour supply companies smuggling workers to New Zealand under false identities.
The large-scale investigation, dubbed Operation Spectrum, resulted in 54 deportations and at least three prosecutions. Another 85 illegal workers have been stopped at the border since May last year.
Immigration NZ area manager Alistair Murray said when the sites were raided by immigration officials, many workers tried to escape or hid in stairwells and ceiling cavities.
Murray would not name the contracting companies or the building sites they worked on.
Now the raids had ended, and workers and their smugglers had been ‘‘picked off’’, large construction firms were being urged to check the legitimacy of their contracted workers amid a labour supply shortage and building boom, he said.
Immigration wanted to encourage the ‘‘top end of the construction contract tree’’ to clean up ‘‘their own backyard’’, he said.
Construction firms should be liable for unlawful workers on their site, just as they are liable for health and safety, he said.
Murray said he had no doubt that the construction industry’s labour shortage had encouraged illegal workers.
‘‘These people could not have been able to operate with out the demand.’’