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Migrant worker abuse bites into scarce labour inspector time

Darien Fenton
Labour Issues Spokesperson

6 June 2013

Migrant worker abuse biting into scarce labour inspector time

Investigations into the abuse of migrant worker exploitation are taking up increasing amounts of labour inspectors’ time, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues and Immigration.

“In Auckland inspectors spend 54 per cent of their work time investigating abuse cases, while across New Zealand that work takes up 33 per cent of their time.

We don’t know whether the percentage has increased because there has been a growth in migrant labour exploitation or whether Labour Minister Simon Bridges is finally paying attention to an issue that has been highlighted repeatedly over the past year.

“The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme has eight inspectors who are spending up to 70 per cent of their time in places like the Marlborough region, investigating possible breaches of minimum wage and other employment laws.

“While it’s good to see action on the issue, the entire labour inspectorate across New Zealand totals just 35 people.

“This means resources are being diverted from their day to day work of policing other workplaces and employment issues, including, as Mr Bridges suggested today, not enforcing the laws that protect workers from being made to work on Easter Sunday.

“The government’s changes to employment law will mean an even heavier demand on labour inspectors. For many workers, they are the only port of call for protection, other than hiring expensive lawyers.

“We’ve seen the tragic outcome of the result of running down the health and safety inspectorate. Let’s not do it with other employment rights.

“The Minister needs to seriously consider increasing the number of inspectors.”


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