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Manawatu Rally Against Migrant Nurse Exploitation

Tomorrow, a rally "Migrant nurses against exploitation and discrimination" will be held in the Square in Palmerston North from 11am - 1pm. The rally has been organised by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) and the Kerala Association of Palmerston Inc representing the local Southern Indian community.

The aim of the rally is to highlight the plight of internationally qualified nurses (IQNs), many from India, who are encouraged by agencies to come to New Zealand to work but then find themselves unable to secure employment.

NZNO says these recruitment agencies are exploiting IQNs and the Government needs to put measures in place now to stop this practice.

Palmerston North Hospital nurse Saju Cherian, who is also an NZNO Board member, says a big turnout at the rally is expected.

"We are expecting more than 100 people to attend. There will be speeches, flags flying and more. We really want to highlight what’s going on with IQNs who are being recruited internationally by agencies who tell them they will be able to work here once they qualify for a New Zealand practicing certificates by completing a "CAP course" (Competency Assessment Programme).

"These recruitment agencies will charge the nurses a fee of around $10,000. In addition, it costs around $10,000 to undertake a CAP course. The CAP courses are run by private companies who are supplying agencies with places on their courses to offer to these nurses. These costs don’t include expenses such as flights to get here and accommodation so IQNs are spending around $35,000 to come here. They are ending up in debt and saying they cannot return to India jobless and unable to repay this debt."

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Mr Cherian says the ongoing unrestricted import of IQNs has put a strain on the system with training, culturalisation and finding effective support for them once they’re in jobs.

"IQNs are leaving well paid jobs overseas to come to New Zealand with the expectation they will be able to work here. There are around 500 IQNs in New Zealand who have completed CAP courses still seeking employment. Many are seen as still requiring additional support and training to meet the standard of New Zealand trained nurses.

"The Government needs to stop the practice of allowing unlimited numbers of IQNs into the country and ensure those who are here currently get jobs along with appropriate training and support. Recruitment should be paused and incentives for agencies to bring them out should be stopped.

"We encourage everyone to come along to the Square tomorrow from 11am to 1pm to provide support and find out more."

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