PREDICTION: Crash in migrant numbers coming – let people stay

By   /   April 28, 2017  /   26 Comments

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Every political party is lying about migration.

They do this by fudging the numbers.

Most importantly the fail to distinguish between those being admitted as permanent residents, those who come as students or temporary workers and those who come and go on a permanent or long-term basis.

Every political party is lying about migration.

They do this by fudging the numbers.

Most importantly the fail to distinguish between those being admitted as permanent residents, those who come as students or temporary workers and those who come and go on a permanent or long-term basis.

Firstly, let us look at what the government doing with the recent changes to how people qualify for permanent residence. They have made it much harder for less skilled, less highly paid workers to access permanent residence. I will leave aside the value judgements being made around the skill of a low-paid nurse aid in aged care versus a high paid advertising executive.

The government have adopted policies that will result in tens of thousands of workers who are here as chefs, nurse aids, hospitality and retail workers being stopped from ever getting the chance to access permanent residence. Some of them have been working and studying in the country for a decade. Many have spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on qualifications now rendered worthless.
I am also convinced that large parts of the private export education sector will collapse. If there is no chance of using the degrees obtained in more modestly paid work then all incentives to study here will be eliminated.

Under the new system, the government is actually allowing 4,000 workers and their families in the South Island a one-off amnesty from the residence points system. The fishhook for them is they have to stay with their current employer for two years and in the industry for another two years. I assume most of them are dairy farm workers. Effectively, they’re being forced into a bonding scheme to their current employer and industry if they want residence within some of dodgiest bosses in New Zealand. This is obviously a recipe for exploitation to me. It is telling that the restrictions being imposed treat these workers as bonded serfs rather than free labour. Capitalism was meant to be a system based on free labour. We are supposed to have the freedom to sell our labour to whomever we please. The dairy farm in Southland has become an exemption to this rule. In fact, it is confirmation that the whole system is designed to have workers in the most vulnerable position possible so the can be exploited without mercy.

But if we can have an amnesty for this group of workers, why not for all the others in New Zealand brought here under false pretences. And the amnesty should be granted without the worker being forced into bonded servitude with particular bosses but with the freedom of all workers to change jobs whenever they want.

Permanent resident approvals
The government has a target to admit 95,000 people over a two year period as permanent residents.

This number has not changed much for the past 15 years. Every year the government has admitted between 40,000 and 50,000 permanent residents. This was true also during the period when New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was in government from 1999-2008. New Zealand First is another party that refuses to distinguish between categories of immigrant.

As Peters knows, it is actually difficult to change this number much from year to year. It is made up of skilled workers who qualify – as well as refugees, family reunification, parents, investors, Pacific quota, Samoan quota, and a dozen more categories.

Because it has many parts, it can’t actually be changed very much in the short term. It is certainly difficult to reduce it significantly without impacting on the key variable which is the skilled worker category.

But this number is critical for the operation of the entire system of migrant labour exploitation.

New Zealand has used the fact that we usually lose one percent of the population each year to Australia and elsewhere to have a category of visas that allowed permanent residence after studying and working in New Zealand.

The hope of eventually getting permanent residence was critical to the operation of the system.

Around 20% of those who start as students or on a temporary work visa managed to obtain permanent residence eventually. Points were awarded for studying here and getting job offers. Almost half of the skilled worker category of around 20,000 a year who transition to permanent residence were former students.

The desperation of many to achieve that goal allowed employers and shoddy educational institutions to take advantage of them.

That is what makes it a system of exploitation.

The export education and temporary work visa system needed the possibility of permanent residence for some to make the system of exploitation work.

Permanent and long-term visitors
Over this last few years, there has been a surge in net arrival numbers for the category of people who tick a box saying they are going to stay for a year or longer versus those who say they are going to leave for a year or longer. This is not a particularly scientific number but it does give a picture of population flows. It has recorded a net gain of over 70,000 a year for the last year or so.

This number has become a target for those who want to blame migrants for social problems that exist. By pointing the finger of blame on the migrant, the failures of the capitalist system to deliver decent housing, jobs, health care and public transport can be ignored.

The government seems to have accepted that the permanent or long-term (PLT) visitor net flows inwards has to be reduced. It is this number the government is targeting with the most recent changes announced for consultation just last week.

There have been three main drivers of the increase in net PLT arrivals over departures. One was a relatively sudden swing around from average net losses of New Zealanders of around 20-30,000 a year over several decades to a net zero in 2012. Second, was the government’s desire to boost the so-called export education sector which they did by loosening entry restrictions and allowing the students greater work rights once here. Third, was an expansion of temporary work visas for relatively unskilled work.

This was connected to the student flows because the right to work for a few years following graduation is an integral part of attracting students. They get a work visa for a few years that then allowed them the chance of getting work with the points needed for permanent residence.

Although this was dubbed the skilled work category it actually often included jobs that would not be considered that skilled. The largest category was chefs for example.

Small reduction in permanent residence visas
In October last year, the government announced their goal was to reduce the overall permanent residence number from 100,000 over two years to 95,000. To achieve that 5% reduction they stopped new parental visas for two years and added 20 points to the skilled work visa number.

This had a dramatic impact on the rights of less skilled people to access residency. For example, it eliminated 90% of the people working here as chefs from being able to access permanent residence.

Thousands of people who had relocated to the country in the belief they would be able to get residence felt betrayed.

Then the government last week announced the new requirement that all skilled jobs qualifying for permanent residence must meet the average wage threshold of $50,000. Most workers in many of the categories currently using large numbers of migrant workers would never pay $50,000.

However, if chefs and other less skilled workers can no longer have the possibility of transitioning to permanent residence there will inevitably be a collapse in the number of these people coming to New Zealand and an exodus of many already here. I have seen this in one Chinese family I have close contact with. One young man who has done a two-year chef’s course at a cost of $80,000 lost the chance to permanent residence when the points were lifted last year. He was considering doing a degree in hotel management to get the extra points. That is now ruled out as a possibility as the wage for a new graduate is well below $50,000. He is returning to China. Another young woman was doing a translation course and planned to do a post graduate degree here but the new system means she will give up on New Zealand and do the degree in Australia.

Another change to the system is that the maximum period of a work visa that does not pay $50,000 or more will be three years. The worker must leave for at least a year before being able to access a work visa again. Nor will they be allowed to bring a spouse or children like they can now. Those already in the country will get a maximum three-year extension before being forced to leave.

Being only being able to come for three years and then leave for a year will be a huge additional barrier for many. Why waste your time.

Those coming under that temporary category would probably be from places where workers are so poor and desperate that even three years may seem to be worthwhile. But creating a system of indentured labour where businesses are recycling people every three years is just extraordinarily inhumane. The probability that workers brought here under such systems will be exploited mercilessly because they are so desperately vulnerable should be obvious.

That is not a system that should be supported.

Tens of thousands of fewer work visas likely under National
I actually think these changes will result in “tens of thousands” fewer people coming each year. The government will achieve the Labour Party leader’s promise.

That seems to be their intention.

By allowing those already here to stay up to another three years it creates a cushion for the policy to take effect.

There are probably 100,000 people here working in lower wage sectors on temporary visas who have had their dreams smashed.

There will be tens of thousands of students who have invested their families life fortunes in coming here who will have had their hopes destroyed.

There is a huge sense of betrayal from these people. There is no question that the government and their employer mates were using the desperate plight of people to improve the lives of themselves and their families to create an export education sector and use temporary work visas to prop up low-wage sectors of the economy like aged care and agriculture.

It is cruel and inhumane to simply throw these people out.

The government has changed the rules on people after they have invested their lives in the search for a decent education and jobs in this country.

It is a betrayal of the promises, implied and direct, that were made to them. People came here to work on visas that under the old rules would have given them a chance at permanent residence.

Let them stay!

Why not simply give it to them if they want to stay. They already have jobs. Often the bosses desperately want them to stay. They have often already established relationships and thrown down roots. Children may be going to schools.

Why throw people out and simply replace them with another temporary migrant. That makes no sense.

Giving them the status or permanent residents will mean they can also stand up and fight for their rights. It is their deliberate employment in a status as dependent workers that allows the exploitation to happen.

The government policy will also see a huge jump in the number of people inflating their salaries by refunding the boss in some way to pretend they are an “executive chef” or whatever.

I actually think the government’s system is rather neat in the way it achieves the objectives it wants to achieve. They will deflate the numbers coming here. They will keep a “temporary” system for low wage sectors where the workers will be even more vulnerable than they are now because of the fear of losing the one chance of a three-year visa.

But they will “succeed” at the price of substantial misery for those already here and those brought here as temporary slaves in the future.

I repeat, why not let them stay? What harm would it do?

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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

26 Comments

  1. Pete says:

    If immigrants keep coming in at the same rate will the debt to GDP aims be more likely to be achieved?

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      It looks like the Titanic heading for the iceberg again, as cheap labour abounds for Corporate fodder and to deliberately bash all Kiwis over the head, so they don’t expect better pay and working conditions, and now we have the next most deepest Global economic crash heading our way sooner than we all know.

      http://thesovereigninvestor.com/exclusives/80-stock-market-crash-to-strike-in-2016/

      80% Stock Market Crash To Strike in 2017, Economist Warns
      by JL Yastine
      January 30, 2017
      Several noted economists and distinguished investors are warning of a stock market crash.

      Jim Rogers, who founded the Quantum Fund with George Soros, went apocalyptic when he said, “A $68 trillion ‘Biblical’ collapse is poised to wipe out millions of Americans.”

      • Jono says:

        I believe it Cleangreen. It will wipe some of these smug looks you get in the hoity toity classes. No the warnings have been coming for a while. It will come out of the blue this one. Markets will tumble most kiwis have no idea there heads are firmly stuck in the sand. ‘Biblical’ i believe it no bail outs this time banks will fail no matter how big. The governments won’t have enough equity to bail out 68 trillion worth of failed dirivatives…

  2. Castro says:

    Are you a renter, Mike? At a guess I would say that you own a property somewhere. What harm would it do? Many of us are paying 50% or more of our income in rent and many of us are homeless. Competing with a proportion of migrants, three times the proportion in the UK, for housing alone is having a corrosive and destructive effect on No Zealand society. Keep more? We need to deport as many as possible; are you an advocate for migrant workers or the NZ underclass?

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      I am paying about 60 percent of my total income in RENT alone! That is in Auckland, in an uninsulated place that has ten degrees max in winter inside (unless I use expensive electric heaters).

    • bert says:

      Exactly Castro!

      “I repeat, why not let them stay? What harm would it do?”

      But where do they live? They become like air in a balloon. Too much and it explodes. That’s already happening and the harm has already started.

      Trying to get immigrants to the regions is a joke? The regions of the 70’s and 60’s that had industry are dead and gone. There is no work in those towns. Everyone wants to go to Auckland where the work is. Restaurateurs can exploit the cheap labouring immigrants but the most concerning issue and I come back to my original point, where do you house them all? They can’t all fit in cars.

  3. keepcalmcarryon says:

    Mike Treen, watching a union advocate for foreigners with little or no regard given to local workers makes me nauseous.
    Im a lefty and I want strong worker protection back, clearly the unions have lost the plot.
    Scaremongering and re-jig of the figures like above to suit your brief of fast food and language school attendees is just self serving on your part.
    Might have to vote Winston yet, thanks for helping the decision making.

    • Once ..whatever says:

      “Mike Treen, watching a union advocate for foreigners with little or no regard given to local workers makes me nauseous.”
      Obviously either you’re just a bit fik, or you haven’t delved into things too deeply.
      I understand your consideration of Winston as (in your eyes maybe), becoming the lesser of several evils.
      For one thing, the spin and msm willingness to portray him as xenophobic and a racist cnut is a bit shallow if you don’t understand him, or don’t even bother to try.
      I don’t agree with him, never have, and maybe never will vote for the cnut, and the spin and bullshit that attempts to portray him as racist, an extreme nationalist, and various other things is actually down to a concern for sovereignty – things like rights of self determination for all those now geographically placed within the boundaries we now call the nation-stste of Aoteraroa Nu Zull.

      If you are truly concerned “KCaCO, I’d suggest you get off your (maybe fik, maybe pansy poopusher, maybe super-hero master of the universe, maybe struggling bloody bene, maybe the son/daughter of a WASP, etc.) FAT FUCKING Fast Food immigrant/minimum wage/health budget blowout-diabetes contributing/heart attack contributing/ etc. etc) ARSE and protest

      • Sam Sam says:

        Tbh i think you’ll find better results if one day before a general election opens you say to people. “There is a general election on tomorrow”

  4. Stuart Munro says:

    This whole farrago is the result of chidish and irresponsible governments playing games with a suite of joined up policies they didn’t understand.

    My own experience, the de-skilling of the fishing industry, is an example. Initially, subsequent to foreign research performed by the likes of the Wesermunde, NZ companies were encouraged to take on foreign partners to provide the expertise and the capital assets they lacked.

    Numerous NZ companies did this, in extreme cases (like that of Amalgamated Marketing) they scarcely had an extant NZ operation – fish was caught and exported often without even landing in NZ.

    This was a very profitable model, and costs could be controlled by ignoring NZ labour laws and frequently fisheries laws as well. But the profits were not used to capitalise the NZ industry or to create an NZ skill base. The reverse was true – migrant workers displaced kiwis. They were cheaper, even though in many cases (especially the Russians) they were notoriously unskilled, requiring 80+ crew to do work that would take 25 NZers.

    Naturally the companies had to lie through their teeth to sustain government cooperation. Now we see the same process being applied to onshore jobs. When an employer states they cannot find workers for a job not requiring a rare technical skill, immigration should treat this claim with infinite scepticism.

    You don’t have workers? That would be because you didn’t pay or train them. Cry yourself a fucking river and start paying and training them now.

    • Once ..whatever says:

      “This whole farrago is the result of chidish and irresponsible governments playing games with a suite of joined up policies they didn’t understand.”
      Ain’t that the fucking truth!
      I’m hoping like hell the details of immigration policy Labour, and the Greens may announce (especially in consideration of their ‘co-operative’ agreement designed to change the govt at the next election) something that doesn’t come up and bite them in the bum very soon after the announcement.
      It’s no surprise to me that various stats relating to our education sector are declining.
      No surprise to me the Chinese have ripped a Kiwifruit variety known as ‘G’ something or other.
      No surprise to me

  5. Sam Sam says:

    Migrants to New Zealand have always been successful. Theres no question about that because our ancestors literally were migrants and no one has a monopoly on success. So apart from the great big pile of cow shit. When past migrants have set the bar so high species extinction is assured, what harm could a migrant do that bothers you?

  6. Stuart Munro says:

    This is fine with respect to the workers themselves – but the dodgy employers and employer groups who have created this end run around our immigration policies need to be constrained, and to face penalties sufficient to deter further systematic frauds of this kind.

  7. Once ..whatever says:

    And @ Mike Treen ….” let them stay “.
    Have a listen to Steven Joyce on RNZ this morning.
    We can’t let these buggers stay eh? …. even though we’ve encouraged them to come in order to prop up our tertiary education export sector, and the ever-changing ‘skill shortages’ we advertise we need. (These bloody immigrants must beg borrow and steal and get into debt to come here under one set of rules, but we reserve the right to change those rules at will and tell them to fuck off). Contractual Conshhmaktual obligatiions eh?
    We also need to ensure we keep the supply chain of attraction and chuck outs after what is now 3 years so that the industry we’ve created (mostly ticket clippers) can keep propping up our CONomy.
    “Crash in migrant numbers coming” …. Indeed! word is getting around internationally (but slowly).
    The language is even appearing a little desperate to me. We’ve begun talking about “high value” and “low value” immigrants – just as we would any other commodity.

    Apparently there’s nothing wrong with mainly WASP Kiwis going offshore on the great OE, and in search of better pay and experience (especially where currencies can/could make their Kiwi debt less onerous – perhaps so that they can pay off their bloody student loan quicker, or save for a mortgage) – AND for and under conditions we think we are due, BUT if a bloody Indian or Pacific Islander comes here with the same ambition …… Yea/Nah – Fuxk man! they’re taking all our bloody jobs!
    (/sarc)

  8. kejomu says:

    No disrespect to migrants but New Zealanders can and want to work.Industry should pay and train them NOW !!

  9. Andrea says:

    I’m having a conspiracy theory moment here: Turnbull and Dutton make it harder for Kiwis to get their knees under the table in Australia so they start coming home. Putting pressure on the creaky infrastructure that private enterprise has no clue about.

    Was there one of those, ‘G’day Mal. Bill here…’ phone call or special relationship meetingsl?

    I think I agree with Mike Treen: when people have gone the extra to buy training in this country, only to have the rug ripped from under them – something is very unfair, bordering on downright dodgy.

    Despite the pay hike (long overdue) for nursing homes, it’ll be a long wait to find Kiwis willing to do the work. The days of country girls as Karitane nurses and ward maids are long gone. Discouraged by a middle class that thinks only a Qualified Person is fit to change nappies or cheer up the abandoned and lonely.

    Banning/discouraging immigrants will do NOTHING to fix the systemic failures we’re facing. It might hold off the awfulness until after the next election. Hope, pray, and sacrifice a stubby, to ensure Auckland doesn’t have another catastrophic meltdown in the next six months. Otherwise the sewer contents will be flying in the wind – and a lot will stick…

  10. Mike in Auckland says:

    The predictions that immigration was to slow and perhaps collapse was made by various agencies and “experts” and Ministers already a year and more ago, it has not happened.

    See this:

    ‘Treasury’ (2016):
    “Positive domestic drivers more than offset declining net migration inflows”

    “Net migration is projected to decline from its forecast peak of 70,700 in the middle of 2016, and return to its assumed long-run level of 12,000 per year in 2019, leading population growth to fall from 2.0% in 2016 to 0.9% in 2019.”

    Link:
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/befu2016/008.htm

    ASB Bank (2014):
    “ASB view”

    “ASB’s Daniel Smith reiterated that the strong net migration inflows were being largely driven by a continued decline in NZ’s net migration deficit with Australia.

    “As the Australian labour market improves gradually over 2014, we do expect NZ’s net migration inflow to slow down, but annual migration is still likely to peak at around 40,000,” he said.”

    Link:
    http://www.interest.co.nz/news/70035/new-zealand-records-its-second-highest-ever-net-monthly-migration-gain-4100-net-arrivals

    ODT (Sept. 2015), quoting FM, now PM English:
    ” “If there are less people that show up, it is possible that wages might have been a bit higher, but we have had plenty of work, we have had a lot of job creation but now we are moving into a part of the cycle where…that inward migration must flatten out some time,” Mr English said.

    “We are not considering that [toughening criteria]. It will be self-balancing. As the economy is a bit softer you are going to get less opportunities and less of them turn up.”

    The Reserve Bank’s latest monetary statement stated that strong net immigration was one of the factors that helped to support growth.

    Net migration has been at record-high levels, and the central bank’s view was that it has peaked.”

    Link:
    https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/wages-affected-immigration-english

    Westpac (2015):
    “That said, the current rate of population growth does look
    unsustainably high. Most recent offshore migrants have come to New Zealand on temporary visas, and many will return home over the next few years. For those that intend to settle in New Zealand long-term, doing so will depend on their ability to obtain work, affordable housing, and a residence visa – all of which are in limited supply. And the number of New Zealanders leaving for Australia will rise eventually, as the Australian economy recovers.”

    “That suggests that beyond the next year or two, it’s worth planning for a return to historically more normal levels of net migration – closer to 15,000 a year than 60,000.”

    Link:
    https://www.westpac.co.nz/assets/Business/Economic-Updates/2015/Bulletins-2015/When-will-the-tide-go-out-October-2015.pdf

    Instead we get this – from Stuff.co, days ago:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/91921252/nzs-net-migration-gain-still-at-record-highs-near-72000-as-arrivals-continue-to-climb

    Even pro immigration “expert”, Prof. Paul Spoonley, forecasts the present trend to continue for another year or more:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201841551/is-a-populist-anti-immigration-virus-spreading-to-nz

    Here is interesting stuff to consider:
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/mythbusters/1million-kiwis-live-overseas.aspx

    “Australia is by far our most popular destination country, so how many Kiwis live there? The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 477,000 New Zealand-born people were living in Australia at 30 June 2006. Our second most popular destination is the United Kingdom, where 58,000 New Zealand-born residents were counted at the 2001 census. The next largest group lives in the United States (around 23,000), while 9,500 live in Canada. An additional 40,500 Kiwis are estimated to live in other countries.”

    Further to that, we can presume quite realistically, that there are possibly a few tens if not hundred thousand permanent residency holders, who have a permanent returning resident’s visa, but who live overseas, for better business and employment opportunities or family reasons.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_permanent_residency

    Comment:

    With NZ having run an immigration policy where around 40 to 50 thousand new applicants have been issues permanent residence visas for many years, which was partly motivated by the intention to replace leaving Kiwis, who went to greener shores elsewhere, we have replaced many Kiwis with new migrants.

    Some of them have not stayed, they have moved on to find better paid jobs and opportunities in Australia or other countries, some have returned to their own countries, as I know a fair few have done. They still have permanent returning resident’s visas and can legally return at any given time.

    With times getting harder in many countries, and immigration rules being tightened all over the place, including the US, UK and Europe, many Kiwis and NZ permanent residents may feel prompted to return to New Zealand to work and live here, or to retire here.

    So we have at the same time still high immigration through long term work visas being issued, also student visas being issued, and still also many getting PR (permanent residence). That happens at the same time that fewer Kiwis leave and more Kiwis come back from Australia and other places.

    My view is, lower new migrant intake, that is issue fewer new PR visas and also lower work visa issues, while so many Kiwi citizens and NZ permanent residents return here. But this is not happening, hence the very high net gains.

    I predict this will continue, for some fairly long time, and will push us to a crisis situation, re housing, schooling, health care, social services, infrastructure and so forth, as we cannot keep up delivering and expanding these services.

    Some training institutes may find it harder getting foreign students, but with the way they acted over recent years, that can only be a good thing, as they ripped many off and promised them things that cannot be delivered (path to residency for all, more or less).

  11. Mike in Auckland says:

    Quoted from Mike Treen’s post:

    “By pointing the finger of blame on the migrant, the failures of the capitalist system to deliver decent housing, jobs, health care and public transport can be ignored.”

    That is not true, it is not being ignored.

    It has been well noted. But by not putting constraints on new immigrants, e.g. limiting PR applicants getting issued PR visas, and limiting work visas, we will get ever more pressure on those areas.

    The government itself is wanting to issue ever more work visas now, saying they need the workers to build infrastructure and housing, to work as teachers, nurses and so forth. But they do not mention that those extra immigrants will also need new accommodation and services. So we are being taken even further, like into a vicious cycle, where more immigrants are needed to cater for more immigrants, and so it goes on and on.

  12. Mike in Auckland says:

    “There will be tens of thousands of students who have invested their families life fortunes in coming here who will have had their hopes destroyed.

    There is a huge sense of betrayal from these people.”

    Yes, I know such a person facing this fate.

    It should have been part of the government’s announced changes to offer those already here a transition period, a chance to stay, and to stop the further flow after them.

  13. bangbang says:

    deport the fukin lot

  14. Mike in Auckland says:

    The business sector’s propaganda machine runs well oiled:
    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/nz-need-200-000-extra-service-workers-in-next-three-years-new-report-warns

    So do our unions fall for this BS, while unemployment persists, and is only officially low, due to dodgy statistical counting (any person working at least one hour a week or more is deemed employed).