KiwiRail can’t outsource responsibility

By   /   April 18, 2015  /   7 Comments

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The government must guarantee New Zealanders that Chinese engineers working on KiwiRail’s locomotives are at least receiving the minimum wage says Rail and Maritime Transport Union spokesperson Todd Valster.

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The government must guarantee New Zealanders that Chinese engineers working on KiwiRail’s locomotives are at least receiving the minimum wage says Rail and Maritime Transport Union spokesperson Todd Valster.

“Last year the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment launched an investigation into allegations that Chinese workers at the Hutt Railway Workshops were being paid as little as $3 an hour”.

“Yet the investigation hit a dead end. It has been revealed that the company undertaking warranty work on KiwiRail’s new locomotives – China CNR Corporation – refused to surrender its wage records to New Zealand authorities” says Todd Valster.

“KiwiRail’s Chinese-built locomotives needed warranty work because the manufacturers had used asbestos in the engine rooms and cabs”.

“This situation would not have happened if KiwiRail commissioned locally assembled locomotives. Building and assembling locomotives could have happened at KiwiRail’s Hutt Workshops” says Todd Valster.

“Outsourcing must stop. Will the CEO of KiwiRail and the Minister of Transport outsource their jobs next or buy asbestos riddled cars” asks Todd Valster.

“The Chinese engineers are doing warranty work, but that should not mean KiwiRail can avoid its responsibility to ensure compliance with New Zealand wage standards. It is a repeat of the foreign fishing vessels and the exploitation of migrant workers.

All companies and all employees working in New Zealand must be covered under New Zealand’s labour laws. The RMTU is calling for a new investigation with greater powers” says Todd Valster.

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About the author

Morgan Godfery

Morgan Godfery - Te Pahipoto, Lalomanu (Samoa). Morgan is based in Wellington and is a political writer specialising in Maori politics. Better known as the author of Maui Street, Morgan spends too much time following international politics, indigenous peoples and TV. He is humbled to be a part of New Zealand’s best blogging line up.

7 Comments

  1. It is inconceivable that a foreign company can contract out of our laws?!

    If this case is allowed to stand, it means that our legislation no longer applies to foreign companies and their workers. We are no longer a sovereign nation.

    http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=205310

    • NehemiaWall says:

      It’s not inconceivable at all, it’s common international practise. The ‘workers’ were in NZ on contract to their Chinese employer. They were not in the employ of a NZ entity, and are therefore only covered by NZ’s workplace laws ( health and safety etc) but not pay laws. This is very common for term (particularly short term) contracts.

      • They were not in the employ of a NZ entity, and are therefore only covered by NZ’s workplace laws ( health and safety etc) but not pay laws.

        What absolute arrant nonsense. Pay laws cover everyone in this country and you cannot contract out, or absent yourself, from those laws. Your ignorance (or misachief-making?) is astounding.

        • Sam Buchanan says:

          The China FTA allows workers on temporary jobs (up to 3 months) to work in NZ while on Chinese employment contracts. They are classed as ‘business travelers’ – the Labour government agreed to extend this definition far beyond its normal use in this agreement.

        • Nehemia Wall says:

          You are quite wrong Frank. The case under discussion is about contractors employed by a foreign owned entity performing work in NZ on a short term basis. These workers are not covered by the NZ minimum wage laws.

  2. Save NZ says:

    You have to wonder, do these corporations not do any RISK assessment before outsourcing these contracts?

    Another fine example of working for NZ. Shut down manufacturing, outsource to China, allow foreign workers to do the maintenance for peanuts and no PAYE tax for NZ either, endanger people with asbestos and award themselves pay rises and bonuses?

    Oh I wonder where all the jobs have gone in NZ? I guess if all the execs are cronies from the Nats it makes sense. The neoliberal handbook, take the cheapest quote and ask no questions.

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    Thanks Morgan,
    Rail firstly is an essential public service
    Planet Key is the new 1970’s China where peasants were paid a pittance for the junta to survive on.

    Key doesn’t want rail, as he is systematically starving Kiwirail with lack of funding while he props up private road transport with public money.

    We hope Kiwirail CEO Peter Reidy finally comes out of the closet and complains about the Government for their lack of funding to keep this essential service public asset afloat instead of closing gradually all services using attrition to achieve key’s goal of killing off rail as a true cheaper land transport option to inefficient private road freight transport.