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Nat's immigration policy a labour market policy

Friday, 5 September 2008

September 4, 2008

National's immigration policy a labour market policy in disguise

National's immigration policy gives priority to filling skills gaps from overseas rather than investing in locals, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

The policy hints at easing conditions for importing workers and providing employers with more power to deny residency to these workers - a situation that would see workers' residency dependent solely on their employers' discretion.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says loosening the rules around employer accreditation would only hurt immigrant workers and their local workmates.

"The use of immigrant labour to fill skills gaps has always been seen as a short term measure and not a substitute for developing talent locally.

"Currently employers have to prove they have taken all possible steps to recruit in New Zealand, including making sure they are paying fair rates and providing decent conditions, before they can recruit outside of normal immigration rules.

"We've already seen employers in some sectors try to import labour rather than pay decent rates and we have been able to use the current procedures to stop it.

"We are also concerned about National's apparent attempts to increase the importance of employment performance in the residency process as it appears National intends this performance to be measured by the employers and this would effectively bond immigrant workers seeking residency to their bosses' whims."

The EPMU represents 50,000 workers across 11 industries and is currently on a drive to recruit and provide protection to Filipino telecommunications and electrical workers who have been brought to New Zealand under the accreditation system.


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