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Filipino nurses suffer abuse and exploitation

18 May, 2005

Filipino nurses suffer abuse and exploitation

Exploitation of foreign workers in not confined to the fishing industry. The latest issue of the national nursing magazine, Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, reveals the exploitation of Filipino nurses working in New Zealand by some immigration agencies and by at least one private aged-care provider.

Filipino nurses, most of whom are too afraid to be identified, have endured a range of abusive and exploitative practices. Two immigration agencies have charged exorbitant fees to place Filipino nurses in jobs and in one case, nurses have had to continue paying a considerable sum to the agent from their earnings, once employed in New Zealand. In another case, an immigration agent has retained the nurses’ passports and original nursing documentation, despite repeated requests for their return.

In the case of the aged-care provider, the Filipino nurses are paid less than other registered nurses at the workplace, receive no penal payments and are constantly rostered on those shifts notoriously difficult to fill, ie weekend, afternoon and night shifts. The Filipino nurses’ contracts state they are to work in any of the provider’s facilities throughout the country.

A New Zealand nurse who has worked alongside Filipino nurses at the aged-care facility said she was “ashamed and embarrassed” to be a New Zealander because of the exploitation of the nurses.

The Department of Labour says there is anecdotal evidence which suggests there may be unscrupulous immigration advisers acting on behalf of Filipino nurses, the article states.

NZNO staff believe those Filipino nurses who have contacted the union about their plight are just the tip of the iceberg. NZNO has developed an information sheet for overseas nurses wanting to work in New Zealand because of the exploitative employment and immigration practices some Filipino nurses have experienced.


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