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Proposed immigration changes good for nursing

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has welcomed the Government’s call for consultation on changes to New Zealand’s immigration policies, saying they will be good for both New Zealand nurses and migrants working in nursing and aged care.

NZNO Industrial Adviser Aged Care David Wait said the changes, proposed by Minister for Immigration Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, will add workforce stability, improve wages, encourage upskilling and protect both New Zealand nurses and migrant workers from exploitation.

"New Zealand has the highest rate of internationally qualified nurses in the OECD at 27 percent, so these changes are really important and would have widespread implications."

He said the changes would require employers to become accredited and demonstrate they are doing all they can to train potential New Zealand employees before they can recruit overseas workers.

"The intent of this proposal is to reduce our reliance on workers from overseas and that’s great, but it will also encourage better workforce training for migrant workers we do employ.

"It will also put upwards pressure on wages and this is a really good thing. Aged care workers earn significantly less than their counterparts working in district health boards and have been for decades. Unfortunately loose immigration policies have allowed some employers to undercut rates of pay for both New Zealanders and migrant workers."

He said the proposal to remove the requirement for low skilled migrant workers to have a one-year stand down period after they have worked here for three years is also welcome.

"This just makes good sense and will add stability for both migrant workers and employers. It will reduce the need for further recruiting and training and will lead to better quality care."

He said migrant workers in aged care make an incredible contribution for which we should all be grateful.

"NZNO is all for employing migrant workers where New Zealanders can’t be found, but when we do employ them, they should receive fair wages and be trained to the same standards we use for New Zealanders."

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway said aged care was one of two sectors in which he wanted negotiations to begin. David Wait said this was also good news considering the heavy reliance upon migrant workers within aged care in New Zealand.


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