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Too little, too late for many Christchurch migrants

Darien

FENTON

Associate Immigration Spokesperson
21 May 2014 MEDIA STATEMENT

Too little, too late for many Christchurch migrants

Plans by the Government to spend around $1.5 million a year for the next four years to employ more labour inspectors and immigration officials in the Christchurch rebuild comes too late for exploited migrant workers, says Labour’s Associate Immigration spokesperson Darien Fenton.

“While Labour welcomes the fact that the Government has finally accepted there is a great migrant worker rip off going on in Christchurch, the move to employ more inspectors will be of no comfort to the migrants whose cases against their employers have stalled, leaving them out of pocket and seriously disadvantaged.

“I brought the case of Filipino migrants Carlos Claveron and Emmanuel Francisco to the attention of the Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, back in February, yet their issues remain unresolved.

“These workers paid a huge amount of money to an immigration advisor for a job at $18 an hour, but after they started working in Christchurch had their pay cut by $3 an hour.

“The Labour Inspectorate says it can’t pursue the employer as it could not be considered an unlawful deduction because the workers ‘consented’ to the pay cut.

“That might be technically correct, because these migrant workers did what the employer suggested or told them to do, but it would take a brave worker to stand up to an employer where their visas are tied to them and they don’t know their rights.

“The advice from the Labour Inspectorate is that it could be considered a breach of good faith, and could be taken to mediation, but only if the employer agrees.

“That is a pathetic response.

“If the Government is serious about stopping migrant worker abuse in the Christchurch rebuild, it needs to strengthen the powers of the Labour and Immigration Inspectorates so they can directly prosecute breaches of employment agreements, not just minimum rights.”

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