Migrant Worker Exploitation Will Continue Without Tougher En
Media Release: FIRST Union
Sunday 17 March 2013
Migrant Worker Exploitation Will Continue Without Tougher Enforcement
Widespread exploitation of migrant workers will continue unless there are tougher penalties and stronger enforcement, says a union active in supporting migrant workers.
The call follows a radio documentary that aired this morning discussing the topic.
Last year FIRST Union set up UNEMIG - Union Network of Migrants, and FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said that weak penalties, a lack of enforcement of existing law and a grossly understaffed inspectorate were leading to continued abuse of migrant workers.
"Migrant workers, and especially temporary migrant workers, are vulnerable to exploitation by employers. Often they have limited knowledge of their rights, sometimes find it difficult to communicate and feel their ability to speak up is constrained because they fear that their immigration status is at risk," he said.
"Employers who receive Approval in Principle to recruit workers from overseas are not being effectively monitored to ensure they meet their obligations, and when they fail to meet their obligations, they face few consequences. In the case of a commitment to pay market-rate wages, or any other undertakings above the minimum code, there is no evidence of any enforcement at all."
“Despite evidence of poor employment practices of some employers that have been highlighted in media, few prosecutions are ever made.”
Robert Reid said several changes were needed, starting with stronger requirements on employers at the point of accreditation and tougher penalties for bad practise.
“The number of labour inspectors also must be increased from current low levels. These inspectors should be conducting random check in areas where exploitation of migrants is likely to happen or initially reported by the community.”
“Funding support to local community centres and organisations providing induction for new migrants needs to be strengthened. Many of these groups are struggling.”
“And Immigration New Zealand should exercise greater compassionate to migrant workers who are willing to expose the bad practices of their employers but who fear for their ability to remain in New Zealand,” Robert Reid said.
Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces in October 2011
to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union
represents 27,000 people working in
(Textile and Wood) Retail,
Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz