FIRST Union and its affiliates; the Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG) and the Indian Workers’ Association (IWA) have released a handbook for migrant workers in New Zealand to share with their friends and families to help protect migrant workers against exploitation at its biennial conference today in Auckland.
The New Zealand Migrant Workers’ Rights Passport (MWRP) will be given out to all migrant workers already a part of FIRST Union and its affiliate networks; UNEMIG and IWA. It contains information on employment rights for migrants, collective agreements, and legal and mental health support services. The MWRP will act as a work guide and vital connection point for migrants so they can safely work in New Zealand. We encourage the MWRP booklets to be shared amongst all workers and we encourage staff to join us by signing up to UNEMIG at http://unemig.org.nz/join-us/
The Government has also today made several announcements at the conference regarding its review of the exploitation of migrants in New Zealand. A consultation group representing migrants, businesses, unions and international students has now been established. Additionally, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has been instructed to undertake in-depth research on temporary migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand.
FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis Maga says New Zealand’s exploitation of migrants is unacceptable.
“Whenever our authorities look into it they find gross exploitation of workers’ rights that seriously affects their ability to live a safe and happy life. When this occurs it financially ruins rather than helps workers and it has left some people in abhorrent work situations that greatly affect their mental and physical wellbeing. This has gone on for too long and enough is enough.”
Mr Maga says the Union is aware of exploitation occurring in horticulture, retail, hospitality, transport, and factories and distribution centres in several sectors.
“Our Union, and Unions in other sectors, see this kind of exploitation across many industries. We see unethical employers using clever ways to scoot around employment law through the use of labour-hire workers or simply writing up a contract that looks as though the worker is on a good rate when in fact they are earning far less in reality. So these employers know the law well and they should know better.”
He applauds the present Government’s pro-active approach.
“It’s a relief that we now have a Government that is taking the exploitation of migrant workers seriously. There are still many companies operating in the country that claim to have a worker shortage, when in fact they are paying depressive pay rates in working conditions New Zealanders simply won’t put up with.”
Mr Maga says the MWRP aims to beef up worker knowledge, safety and autonomy while the Government conducts its review.
“We know all the tricks unethical businesses use to get cheap labour so our Migrant Workers’ Passport aims to act as a preventative document to these tactics while the issue is under review.”