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Urgent investigation needed into migrant exploitation


16 August 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Urgent investigation needed into migrant exploitation

The blatant rip-off of migrant workers exposed on TVNZ’s One News must be investigated and Labour inspectors required to urgently crack-down on this kind of exploitation, often by other migrant-owned businesses, says Darien Fenton.

Labour’s spokesperson for labour and immigration issues says it may be time for a high-level inquiry into the issue given the growing number of examples of migrant worker exploitation.

“When there was exploitation and underpayment of minimum wage for foreign fishing crew the Government conducted a Ministerial Inquiry because of the stain on our international reputation.

“This kind of treatment of workers who have come to New Zealand for a better life is also an indictment on our reputation as a country that has signed up to minimum rights for all workers.

“This isn’t the first time these kinds of stories have come to light this year. In fact, it was recorded in the Immigration Estimates that the department had noted a possible upward trend in cases of migrant employers exploiting migrant workers.

“These workers are being treated appallingly by their employers. They deserve the protection of the Government. But it appears that the Government is simply relying on the workers to make complaints before they will act. That’s not good enough.

“It’s simply not realistic to expect vulnerable migrants to come forward, as we’ve seen in other areas where making a formal complaint is a fearful and alien process.

“If the Government is serious about making sure minimum wage and working condition standards in New Zealand are enforced, they need to do more than sitting back and hoping exploited workers will complain.

“The Government must urgently lead an investigation into the businesses exposed by TVNZ’s One News and earlier examples of worker exploitation,” said Darien Fenton.
ends


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