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The immigration scam is the one run by the bosses and their government

By   /  October 15, 2016  /  12 Comments

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The immigration scam that exists in the country is the one being run by the government and their capitalist mates to use and abuse migrant labour.

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The government announced they were reducing the official target number for new permanent residence approvals from 90-100,000 over two years to 85,000 to 95,000. A 5% reduction is of no consequence as far as the problems New Zealand actually faces and how they may be fixed.

For the last few decades, New Zealand has on average lost around 30,000 residents on a permanent or long-term basis every year to overseas destinations – principally Australia.

We suffer this loss because the wealthy capitalists and their political representatives were successful in driving down workers living standards much more in this country than Australia. Combined with the fact we have a right to work there it just made sense for workers to try their hand across the ditch.

The net flows each year fluctuates quite a bit depending on whether there is a recession in Australia or not. If there is the number leaving New Zealand drops significantly and more return home if they lose their jobs. That has been true over the last couple of years which is why there has been a jump in the number of permanent and long-term arrivals over departures recently.

But on average, there has been a net loss of close to one percent of New Zealand’s population each and every year for three decades,

That is why as a country approximately this number has had to be imported if a paralysing crisis was not to emerge.

The end result is that New Zealand has one in four of its population born in another country while one in four people born in New Zealand (who are still alive) live abroad.

That is also why it is simply a lie for New Zealand First to claim that the lack of access to education, housing, transport or other social services is a product of some sort of uncontrolled immigration. We lack these vital social services because the bosses and their governments have taken them from us and we haven’t fought hard enough to stop them.

However, the bosses have used the need for an ongoing recruitment of permanent residents to replace Kiwis heading offshore to create a pool of hundreds of thousands of additional workers living and working in this country on temporary visas with very few rights.

New Zealand is also able to use the fact that it is an English-speaking country to create a whole “Education export” sector earning money off fees from over 100,000 foreign students. This includes the private training establishments but also every tertiary provider including universities and most high schools. They all operate as parasites on the foreign student “market”.

Most people who are finally accepted as permanent residents have started life as students and then gone on the get temporary job search visas tied to particular employers in search of the job with the points they need for residence. Even then there is no guarantee unless they have a very high “score”. For most applicants for residency, they are simply put in a pool and, with luck, invited to apply for residence.

On average one in five of those who start as students or on temporary work visas actually are successful. For many, they have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in school, legal, and Immigration NZ fees. Many have worked in jobs that they hate but it is difficult to change employer for the sponsorship they need. Some simply buy the job by paying the boss their wage or paying the difference between the minimum wage and the “managers” salary needed by Immigration NZ to qualify.

250,000 people are granted student or temporary work visas each year. Most hope to transition to permanent residency. The government and the bosses know that they are simply creating a pool of labour competing against each other for the right to stay and who are therefore easily exploitable as workers. There are official reports into the issue. That is why there is scandal after scandal being reported in the media and every official MBIE investigation find most emp[loyers are breaking the law one way or another.

The labour movement needs to act to protect these workers. They need the full rights of all other New Zealand workers including the right to change jobs and not be tied to particular employers.

The immigration scam that exists in the country is the one being run by the government and their capitalist mates to use and abuse migrant labour.

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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

12 Comments

  1. Mike the Lefty says:

    Notice how in any talk about net migration John Key makes a big deal out of New Zealanders who return to live here from Australia (I’m sure he mentioned a figure of 30,000) and how this proves that New Zealand is such a great place to live and work.
    The reality is that New Zealanders are coming home not because New Zealand is so great, but that Australia doesn’t want them anymore and without work in Australia they won’t be getting any income support so it leaves them little choice except to come back.
    Migration is certainly a scam worked out between big business and the government. We are told that we only have foreign workers here when there are insufficient New Zealanders to do the jobs. And when that excuse looks lame they trundle up number two excuse: New Zealanders are lazy.
    The neo-libs assumed that the free market would keep wages low with little upward movement. To their horror they found that wages actually moved up so they had to implement plan B: flood the low paid industries (retail, hospitality) with migrants who didn’t complain about wages or working conditions and would effectively keep wage rates down. When they don’t have to deal with those whinging Kiwi ingrates it is much easier and cheaper for them, and even if things go wrong how many Kiwis actually give a toss about the rights of Chinese, Fijian or Thai workers? Only a few left-wing stirrers, the rest wouldn’t give a monkeys as long as they can buy their cheap Chinese takeaways at Mr Chang’s on Friday nights.
    Also, predictably, the rush to get cheap labour into the restaurants and takeaway bars meant little thought went into how these people would be accommodated. I suppose the National government and big business just assumed that the free market would fix all housing problems and it wasn’t a big issue. After all who cares about housing for Asians, they can all live in one-room dorms, that’s the way they live in China isn’t it?
    It is a shining example of how National has no forward planning, no contingency plans for anything. When things go wrong, find someone else to blame. That’s what National does, and has always done.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      “After all who cares about housing for Asians, they can all live in one-room dorms, that’s the way they live in China isn’t it?”

      I have seen quite a few homes in Auckland where you have many people share bedrooms and sleep on couches, as “flatmates”. Overcrowding is happening especially where overseas students and new immigrants share accommodation.

      And the higher housing costs and eventually also rents rise, the more overcrowding of homes we will get. Landlords do often not even know that there are more people living in the properties they let, some do not even care.

      At the same time some better off, professionals, small business operators or whatever else they do, they occupy a two or even three or more bedroom home on their own, or perhaps only with one partner they may have.

      As with certain people helping each other out, those at the very bottom of the social ladder get driven out of rental accommodation in homes and then have to sleep in cars, caravans, garages and in boarding houses. We seen the results especially in the South of Auckland.

      • Mike the Lefty says:

        Yes MIA, when the reality shows that it is New Zealanders, as well as foreigners, who are paying the price for National neo-liberal boom and bust economic ideology you might just think that would generate some concern in the government.
        But obviously it doesn’t generate much.

  2. Mike in Auckland says:

    “The net flows each year fluctuates quite a bit depending on whether there is a recession in Australia or not. If there is the number leaving New Zealand drops significantly and more return home if they lose their jobs. That has been true over the last couple of years which is why there has been a jump in the number of permanent and long-term arrivals over departures recently.”

    Recession? What recession?

    http://fortune.com/2016/09/07/australia-economic-growth/

    Even Mike Treen has fallen for the NZ government spin. Australia has not had a proper recession for ages, while New Zealand had a few. What Australia has suffered from is slowing growth, but even that growth is just a little below of that of present day New Zealand.

    It may though also be boosted a bit by immigration and foreign investment, including real estate.

    But what drove many Kiwis to come back home was the slow down in mining activity, due to a drop in commodity prices. Also did many New Zealanders find life over there not all that great for them, as without a job they have no access to welfare, that is for many that went there since the early 2000s.

    And Australian employers will hire their own first, as I expect their law to require them, hence there has been a fair few returns by New Zealanders and also others with New Zealand permanent residence to New Zealand.

    Some of them did reasonably well when overseas, and have come back with money they saved, so they can afford to buy a home here, which contributed to pressure on the local housing market.

    But immigration into New Zealand has been a bit of a scam since at least the early 1990s, as the new neoliberally thinking governments just loved to get cheap workers with and without skills to come here and do the job that New Zealanders could or would not do, and to also keep wages and salaries down.

    The health sector is one where many New Zealand doctors and nurses left to work overseas, where they could earn much more and also often got better working conditions. Those had to be replaced with qualified persons from other places.

    Like with the second hand Japanese car imports, offering “affordable” cars for Kiwis, the government thought, we can do the same with qualified workers from various countries, for whom working in New Zealand may have been attractive. For those that came to work here and get better pay, it would have meant they came from places where they earned less.

    Farm workers from the Philippines work long hours at relatively low pay, so farmers love that. Larger building companies may also find overseas tradespeople attractive, for being prepared to work longer for less than many New Zealanders.

    Australia tightened immigration also, because many from various countries first came here, to get a New Zealand passport and then move freely into Australia.

    So we now get what we asked for, that is from the Australian governments. We also get what the government here dished up for us, but while people complain, they were never asked, they could have protested. Sadly few bother going to protests in New Zealand, unless it is about a strip club or brothel or synthetic marihuana selling shop near a school.

    Perhaps some now wake up to what needs to be done.

    Nevertheless the government will continue to sell us the eternal growth mantra, to get growth for growth’s sake. People better realise, that more people may offer growth for a while, but further down the line they also want health care, retirement incomes, education for their kids, welfare and housing and so forth.

    The environment has finite resources, so we will have to share more, which may mean less for every single one, even if this applies to less agricultural exports, as we will need more to be consumed here.

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    Privatisation of the NZ Government and all the corruption that will follow.

  4. […] Here is the grim truth about our current immigration settings. It’s not the 70 000-90 000 who become permanent residents that we need to be concerned about and it’s not their families joining them that we need to be worried with either, the real problem is our scam work/study visa scheme that sees 250 000 desperate students coming to N…. […]

  5. Waz says:

    “That is why as a country approximately this number has had to be imported if a paralysing crisis was not to emerge”.

    That’s debatable Mike. I think what would have happened is the law of supply and demand working as it should. Wages and conditions here would have gone up, fewer people would have left, more would have come back, we could probably have attracted the cream of Australians here, instead of the other way round.

    Right from the start the way immigration has been managed in New Zealand is pretty much as a ponzi scheme for the benefit of crony capitalists.

    Michael Reddell’s blog has some insightful posts on immigration, a really good one today addressing BusinessNZ arguemets for more immigration
    https://croakingcassandra.com/2016/10/14/businessnz-argues-for-more-immigration/

  6. save nz says:

    Why do one in four New Zealanders live abroad? Are our most educated forced to live elsewhere and grow other countries economies because our short sighted anti science, anti arts, anti intellectuctual government policies and poor wages and conditions mean that they can’t work in this country?

    Is it a problem, we replace them with chefs and Kiwi fruit pickers who need government subsidy for the employer low wages and then wonder why we have poor productivity?

    Are we so busy trying to make a profit from university education for foreign students we fail to concentrate on NZ students quality education and enabling them to stay in the country with a decent job and prospects?

    We can never compete with China and India for a low wage economy, even if we keep up record immigration. We need to ditch the low wage economy and go high tech, high creativity, high wage economy.

    Nowadays we don’t even need physical products, books can be down loaded, IP can be down loaded, and so forth.

    People don’t need oil to travel, they can stay local but contribute globally. Once we get into the creative capital we need less goods, we don’t have to displace people and push them around the world to economic hot spots. The world concern of migration will dissipate if people can stay in their own countries but still trade online.

    I’m against the TPPA for many reasons, but it also will discriminate against Kiwis for IP and enable the giants to gain monopolies. It will kill the new more sustainable economy that we need to change to.

    • Waz says:

      “We can never compete with China and India for a low wage economy, even if we keep up record immigration.”

      Absolutely true. I was thinking about what possible reason New Zealand’s Neoliberal “elite” could have for the steps they have taken to create a low wage economy today. I doubt there is any economic sense in it, and I’m starting to think it stems from a pathological desire to punish people they see as inferior.

      • save nz says:

        I think it as simple as being able to make more money. More people need more things to buy and more competition for jobs. Yes RWNJ’s hate everyone that is not like them, but immigration is all about profit.

        • Waz says:

          Sad but true now I think about it. Neoliberals are all about the short term. The consequences will be for someone else to clean up.

  7. OncewasTim says:

    Once again, good to see MT provide a more realistic understanding of the issues (and other commenters here). It’s a shame the government is unable to apply a little critical thought and think it through properly
    https://thestandard.org.nz/racist-nats-attack-chinese-grannies-shock/#comment-1243762
    The above a comment I made on TS.
    What I also found interesting was the comment following describing the plight of the Kiwi born children – as though there is some mutual exclusivity.
    Just because we’ve treated out own workers like shit, signed up for cheap overseas labour (and now having transferred experience and expertise in areas like the Kiwifruit industry to ‘foreigners’), it’s no justfication to rip them off, give them false promises, fail to adequately investigate scams and rip-offs, deport them, etc.
    That’s OK tho’ eh? as long as the private tertiary education sector is profitable (NOT).

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