Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Migrant Workers Association criticises work visa overhaul

Migrant Workers Association criticises New Zealand work visa overhaul

Katie Scotcher, Reporter

A group representing migrant workers says the government's overhaul of work visas has failed to remove a clause that means they can be treated like modern day slaves.

The Migrant Workers Association says the long-awaited changes are a disappointment and don't go far enough. Image: Martin Boose/freeimages.com

The government yesterday announced a new employer-led work visa it said would deal with labour shortages, reduce exploitation and improve conditions for New Zealand workers.

But the Migrant Workers Association said the long-awaited changes were a disappointment and didn't go far enough.

Read more:
The fight to end exploitation

Under the new system, six visa categories, including essentials skills and long skill shortages, will be replaced by one temporary work visa.

All employers will need to be accredited to recruit foreign workers and there will be thorough checks before the visa is issued.

Specific terms and conditions will be negotiated with sectors that are highly reliant on foreign workers, such as the aged care, dairy and construction sectors.

Employers will also be required to train and make their jobs appealing to New Zealand workers.

Anu Kaloti. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Anu Kaloti from the Migrant Workers Association said the changes would help everyone but foreign workers.

"It'll probably make the administration side of things easier for Immigration New Zealand to have this one type of visa, rather than six different ones. It sounds like it is going to help employers where there are shortages, especially in the regions."

The government has said the changes will ensure foreign workers are recruited only for genuine shortages, help reduce exploitation and will create better connections between immigration, education and welfare systems.

But Anu Kaloti said it is likely workers will continue to be exploited as they will only be able to work for a single employer.

"If they wanted to attach a certain occupation, or a person's visa to a region, or to an industry sector, that still is manageable and workable. But attaching a person's visa to an employer is basically just modern day slavery."

Under the new system, lower-paid workers will be able to bring their families to New Zealand. That was the only positive change, Ms Kaloti said.

"We feel it's important for families to stay together, especially when they're trying to make a go of life in a very new environment, a new country, so it's important the families are not kept apart."

Mandeep Singh Bela from the Indian Workers Association said the changes left many migrant workers feeling uncertain about their future.

"A lot of them are currently either are already on existing one of the six categories, or some of them are thinking to apply for one of the six categories, so at the moment they are a bit confused about what's going to happen."

A migrant worker, who RNZ has agreed not to name, has been working in New Zealand for almost a decade.

He described the changes to work visas as confusing and said he was no better off.

"So I have been working all the time, so the requirements they will ask me to [apply for] residency or the skill shortage, by the time I reach that requirement Immigration changes its rules again."

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the new visa would give employers more certainty and foreign workers more assurances about their conditions.

It will benefit up to 30,000 businesses by making it easier to employ foreign workers in the short term, he said.

The changes will be implemented gradually from next month and will be in place by 2021.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Analysis: Dotcom Appeal For Surveillance Data Dismissed

Kim Dotcom’s Appeal against the decision allowing the GSCB to withold information as to communications illegally intercepted by them has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal of New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On China’s Bad Week

Even before the local body election results came in from Hong Kong, China had been having a p.r. nightmare this week. First, the ICIJ released a trove of leaked cables about the mass concentration camp system that China has built to control and to “re-educate” over a million people from its Uighur minority... More>>

Julie Webb-Pullman: Jacinda, THAT Tweet, And Gaza

The MFAT tweet condemning rocket fire from Gaza while failing to condemn the Israeli extrajudicial assassinations and civilian killings that generated Islamic Jihad’s rocket-fire in defensive response, reveals the hypocrisy at the heart of New Zealand’s so-called “even-handed” foreign policy and practice towards Palestine. More>>

Hope For Nature: A New Deal For The Commons

Joseph Cederwall on The Dig: To fully understand the biodiversity crisis and explore what comes next, it is necessary to address this mind-virus at the heart of our modern civilisation – the dominion worldview. More>>

ALSO: