Em­ploy­ers us­ing loop­holes to ex­ploit mi­grants: or­gan­i­sa­tion

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL - GILL BONNETT

WELLING­TON: Work­place ex­ploita­tion is spread­ing de­spite govern­ment at­tempts to clamp down on it, im­mi­grant work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives say.

Union Net­work of Mi­grants and the In­dian Work­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion co­or­di­na­tor Man­deep Singh Bela said yes­ter­day when one loop­hole was closed, the next was found.

He said the lat­est scam was to ad­ver­tise a job — as they were re­quired to prove there were no lo­cal work­ers avail­able — but not in­clude the salary rate.

Re­mu­ner­a­tion rates set by Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand made jobs at­trac­tive to New Zealand work­ers.

Rogue em­ploy­ers in­stead wanted to hire an im­mi­grant who would then be eas­ier to ex­ploit, Mr Bela said.

‘‘What they’ll do is ad­ver­tise a job with no in­ten­tion of hir­ing a lo­cal worker.

‘‘There’s no in­ten­tion some­times of actually even in­ter­view­ing those lo­cal work­ers.

‘‘The em­ployer al­ready has a mi­grant worker in mind who he de­cided a deal with that he is go­ing to ex­ploit.

‘‘The prob­lem was when the visa ap­pli­ca­tion let­ter went to Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand they did not even ask ‘Why? What was wrong with the other 20 who ap­plied? What did their CV say?’’’

Mr Bela said if New Zealan­ders knew the pay rates they would find the jobs more at­trac­tive.

The or­gan­i­sa­tions he works for re­ceive at least one call ev­ery other day from a worker claim­ing to be ex­ploited.

Mr Bela is call­ing for work visas not to be tied to a named em­ployer, so work­ers would be able to shift jobs and raise the alarm about dodgy bosses.

Tougher penal­ties were needed be­cause many em­ploy­ers were mak­ing more money through ex­ploita­tion than fines they had to pay if caught, he said.

Govern­ment ac­cred­i­ta­tion mea­sures un­veiled last year were a step in the right di­rec­tion.

As­so­ci­a­tion for Mi­gra­tion and In­vest­ment chair­woman June Ran­son said she had learned of un­der­pay­ment of im­mi­grants at a large con­struc­tion com­pany.

‘‘I was hor­ri­fied to think what they are try­ing to hold over the heads of their mi­grant work­ers.

‘‘Some of the mi­grants are so scared to stand up and say ‘Look, this isn’t right’, be­cause they are scared of losing their job.

‘‘Cor­rup­tion is out there — and it doesn’t mat­ter what size the com­pa­nies are.’’

INZ manager Michael Car­ley said in a state­ment worker ex­ploita­tion was a pri­or­ity for the min­istry as it re­alised they were more vul­ner­a­ble and less likely to know their rights than New Zealan­ders.

‘‘Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers need to be sat­is­fied that em­ploy­ers have made ‘gen­uine at­tempts’ to re­cruit New Zealan­ders.

‘‘They also need to be sat­is­fied the job of­fer to a mi­grant is gen­uine and sus­tain­able.’’ — RNZ

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