Unite Union accuses Immigration Minister of breaking promise to Chinese construction workers


Unite Union has accused Immigration New Zealand of doing nothing to help a group of 50 Chinese workers brought to New Zealand by National Personnel Limited and their agent Peter Li.

Despite promises to help by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway in January no worker has received a variation to their visa to allow them to work for another employer or to renew their existing visas to make up the lost income from when they had little work for five months.

The workers also paid around $40,000 in agents fees in China to get these jobs and were told that it would be full-time work with decent wages. Many were only given a one-year visa but were told that they could renew it easily. No-one would have paid these high fees otherwise.

For their first five months in New Zealand work was intermittent or non-existent. Only after Unite Union filed a legal case for lost wages against NPL and Peter Li did NPL begin paying most workers regularly. This was to avoid the additional liability they would incur if they lose the case in the Employment Relations Authority.

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But Immigration NZ did not help a single worker change employer. They have forced these workers to continue working for NPL even while there is an immigration fraud investigation being conducted involving the company and the agent.

Half the visas are expiring in the next few months and it seems Immigration NZ is blocking any extension of these except for six or seven who have been asked to give evidence in a possible fraud case and offered a limited purposes visa for this case.

For other workers, documentation and evidence of experience that was acceptable for the first visas issued is no longer acceptable. New demands are being made for additional information not required earlier that is difficult to provide.

These workers face the probability of going back to China completely destitute.

In this case, forcing workers out will also prevent them from being able to be here for the legal case against NPL and Pete Li. NPL has also been able to use the fact these workers are still employed to “persuade” 10 workers to pull out of the legal case for back wages with a false promise that NPL may be able to help get new visas for them.

The humanitarian thing to do would be to issue a “Special Direction” for a visa waiver so that they don’t have the climb all the hurdles being demanded of them.

This power exists for the Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway or senior officials to use when it is obviously inhumane to apply the rules without any discretion. This is clearly one of those cases. The minister could understand that fact in January and now seems to have been recaptured by his officials.

The previous National Party Minister of Immigration was also able to do something like that for his Dairy farmer mates in Southland to keep their migrant workers from the Philippines when they were faced with being sent back home after their visas began expiring.

Immigration NZ seems infected with a culture that treats the victims of migrant exploitation as somehow co-conspirators in their own exploitation who should be thrown out at the earliest opportunity.

Why do we bother electing a government if the bureaucrats continue to carry on in the old ways?

Radio New Zealand report on January 11, 2019, Headed: “Move to help stranded Chinese workers with visa variation”

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said Immigration New Zealand was working with the men and the Unite union to see what help it could offer.

He said Unite union has handed over a list of 57 workers who need help with their visas.

“The sorts of things that they’ll be looking into is, can there be a variation to their visas that allows them to pick up work [with other employers].

“I believe that a number of employers have come forward and offered the opportunity to work, and that’s what these workers are looking for. They just want to be able to work, earn some money, and take care of themselves whilst they’re in New Zealand.”

Mr Lees-Galloway said the workers’ welfare was a priority.

See also Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway promises alternative visas for Chinese workers



  1. The last thing immigration should do is ‘help’ with the visas as it will encourage more of the same scams.

    Unite and the police should prosecute NPL instead and ask for damaged to be paid to the Chinese builders so they don’t go home destitute.

    If that happens, my guess is NPL will ‘pay off’ the Chinese builders anyway so that they can return home with their money or NPL will face legal action for years. Either way they should be prosecuted and the law changed to stop it happening.

    If the NZ government/immigration gives out visas to the Chinese then there is no incentive for legal action against NPL or any incentive to stop more people coming to NZ on scams, as they got the visa they wanted but not from NPL but the stupid NZ government so the Ponzi will continue.

    NZ immigration is becoming a laughing stock giving out visas like lollies to people who are not skilled and are not even safe on a site as they can’t speak English or follow instructions in English for the most part, fall for scams, let alone be safe with completely different construction standards and building codes across countries.

    Anyone working construction in NZ should have to pass a NZ construction exam (similar to overseas medical staff), before being allowed near a site.

    Someone pointed out to me the other day that every 3nd person from Russia/Middle East they meet claim they are are doctor but driving a taxi. So even if you are an overseas trained doctor (or have a counterfeit degree) and have got to NZ, the industry itself still checks by law you can do the job before giving them the green light in NZ to practise on patients! Needs to happen for all industry here to stop the scams.

    If Unite actually cares about the poor in this country and growing homelessness in NZ they need to stop encouraging scams in construction, but stop them instead.

    There are major issues in NZ construction anyway, with drugs rife in the industry, leaky buildings, faulty building products and work, and the current bizarre ponzi;s are also leading to the failures of NZ construction companies that have been in business for decades. Now we have labour and materials being undercut by immigration ponzi’s, poor workmanship and low wages to add to all the other problems.

    We’d have a lot more housing if the construction industry with NZ law can be bothered to focus on construction quality in the first place so we don’t have to rebuild a large quantity of construction within a few years with remedial work. There is no point building stuff that is not fit for purpose!

    The 50 Chinese are the tip of the ice berg. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12171615

    The last thing we need in NZ is more people coming to NZ on construction and labour scams taking up housing and resources here and enriching corrupt employers and undercutting legitimate ones to drive them out of business.

    Unite should look at stopping bad labour practises not enabling the bad employees by allowing them to get over 2 million dollars in ‘visas’ payments and then walk away scot free. Sue the Fuckers for damages!

    • You are 100% correct. Mike Treen doesn’t care for the No Zealand underclass, he advocates for transnational labour to undercut locals.

      • @Castro – I ‘m not necessarily saying that, but I think people like Mike Treen and the wokies and government, don’t understand the cruelty of bringing in hundreds of thousands of migrants from countries like Nigeria (where the average school age is 9) and China (average school age is 14) and charging them a fortune to get here with scams like work visas , then the migrants find out that the promises are not true, even if they get the job, they are living a poverty filled life on low wages in NZ and then the ponzi continues with extortion of more money to try and get the residency… then the extortion from immigration advisors to get the family over… etc etc

        Better to not give out the visas in the first place and save the people from the scams.

        The visa scams will continue, just the amount of people in those countries who are uneducated and scams being the norm there, mean that lucrative amounts of money made from selling NZ visas will increase. Only the stopping of granting the visas will stem the scam.

        Once here, these un/semi – employed migrants becomes a NZ problem, that should never have seen the light of day here!

        We already have enough of our own problems with poverty!

        • It’s modern day slavery to import cheap unskilled abused labour as is happening.
          Greens answer is to call for better slave treatment.
          I say abolish slavery.

      • But, we ‘need’ more people to care and cater for more people, so the message seems to go. Ageing, sickness needing carers and medical workers, new kids born needing also teachers and so to teach and look after them. More people, more transport needs, more housing needs, all this must be ‘catered for’.

        We are put into the ‘growth trap’ by various government, who tell is, we must have at least ‘managed immigration’ to ‘fill the gaps’.

        Where will it end though, once NZ Inc has a hundred million population?

    • Agree 100% with you there.

      See our family have a real problem with the immigration system in NZ today, as my own son was forced to leave NZ because of their stupid Immigration policies today.

      My son Sam came home to us in 2015 when he had spent 10 yrs in Germany and did his apprenticeship as an electrician and began working for a Havelock North company after resitting his NZS upgrade to allow him to work here (although he was born in Napier in 1986 he had to spend a whopping $3000 dollars to retrain for his NZ trade certification.

      Then after two years working here he visited old friends in German for a wedding and met a German girl when there, and returned home again to us and six months later his German girlfriend came to NZ for a month visit and they got engaged to our delight.

      Then the ‘shit hit the fan’ – when he applied to Immigration to have his partner get a work visa to return and get married, but NZ immigration said to him; quote “don’t even apply for her to work as they would not even consider the application.” unquote.

      So he went on TV three news hub and exposed this abuse he got from immigration NZ.

      he has now been in Germany again for six months and we are pissed off at the minister of Immigration he is a flop as Ian Less Galloway should fix his department pronto as he is harming many good people now.

        • I don’t think Cleangreen is saying his son was forced to leave. But if you find a good partner from somewhere else, and Immigration NZ do not want to give her or him a visa, then what do you do?

          Also does it appear that Cleangreen is indicating a kind of double standard used by Immigration NZ. Some seem to be getting a bit more lenient treatment, due to raising pity for coming from poor and ethnic backgrounds at times, while other, perhaps very valid applicants are given the tough treatment, i.e. show more effort is the message.

    • Totally agree with you. They should be prosecuting the NPL that scam these people to coming to NZ and the last government that approved these visas.

      Unite should be chasing those involved for the money owed to the Chinese men.

  2. In addition there are literally billions of illiterate and semi literate people out there who will fall for the scams, so perhaps the NZ government and NZ immigration can do everyone a favour, including the huge numbers of migrants falling for scams, overloaded NZ justice & police departments, overloaded NZ immigration, housing and infrastructure and society at large, by not allowing the scam to expand in the first place by NOT allowing NZ work visas to be given out at all unless in a very specific and clear cases.

    Can we also ensure that the visa applicant has to pass a rigorous NZ test within a week of arrival (and large fines to both the applicant and NZ work sponsor if they fail) to ensure we are measuring apples with apples on work quality, and uneducated, unqualified scab labour, dropping wages and ensuring huge amounts of redundancy on the rise here, and poor productivity, is stopped.

    Even if migrants have brilliant skills, if they can’t speak or read the language in NZ, then clearly they are not suitable from a safety point of view to work here in the majority of industries and open to further exploitation!

    Apparently it is now common in NZ construction to use Nigerians to operate the massive cranes @ $30p/h. (Nigeria’s population is projected to grow from more than 186 million people in 2016 to 392 million in 2050, becoming the world’s fourth most populous country.) Nigerians used to just work for Chorus!

    So clearly the question should be, is that where NZ wants to be, aka a country offering lower and lower wages to third/2nd world countries with rampant overcrowding?

    There are plenty of people in NZ who are happy to make 2 million per 50 ‘work visas’ for ‘handling’ visas for them, but that is continuing the Natz low wage economy further which presumably the government does not wish to do?

    Having real overseas workers in skilled jobs, not at slave wages and a language test and rigorous controls, use to be the law before neoliberalism got it’s way and the Natz spent 9 years making NZ a third world immigration ponzi, lowered wages in real terms across the board, and expanded enormous social issues like Meth and MDMA, homelessness, fake drivers licenses, corruption, growing pollution and congestion here.

    The people/corporations winning from cheap labour from overseas is the unscrupulous employers who just wants the cheapest labour they can find around the world and the losers are the local people they compete against for for housing, jobs etc, and the NZ taxpayers who have to subsidise that ponzi going forward for services like health, transport, housing, education, super etc.

    I would have thought that would be against what unions wanted?

    • Yes and immigration and work visa permits should be controlled by NZ Immigration, not by agents subcontracted out in the countries of application. This is where the scams arise and it’s also where the scams and exploitation occur here. Look at the dodgy landlords and employers here. Who are they? Yep!

  3. Kiwis living in cars.
    I don’t want my taxes helping foreign labour drive our wages ever lower by changing their visa conditions.
    Neither should our unions fight foreigners battles at our expense because that’s what their foreign membership wants.
    No more cheap unskilled labour imports for construction, dairy, horticulture.
    Let’s make a law no non NZ citizen membership of NZ unions.
    Non citizens should also have no say in voting for our government.
    Then immigration corruption might start getting straightened out.

  4. Could it be perhaps that the Minister may have said something that he regretted a bit later? He should perhaps not said what he did, as he is bound by law to respect the immigration legislation as it is, especially him being the Minister.

    So he may have realised a bit too late, that he should not have made certain comments or even promises, re the immigrants in question, and hence he is acting as he is.

    He is a new Minister in a new job, has never been a Minister of the Crown before, so he is on the learning by doing curve, I suspect.

    This is what we now must realise with all Ministers, they may have made nice promises during the election campaign, the may have casually said things, but now that they are in their jobs, sworn in, they have to work within the law as it stands.

    The law does not allow certain things, so his hands are bound, he may not be able to do what he did suggest, and he may have to let the immigration staff do their job as they usually do.

  5. Maybe due to unwittingly participating in fraudulent activities, the workers are in a spot between a rock and a hard place now, so given them leniency would look like bending the rules and the law.

    You can hardly criticise National for doing that, and then let Labour do the same, I suppose, without being criticised.

    It is like with some Indian students, who signed papers letting their agents do all the work. And by giving them consent to do so, they do also have little chance to defend themselves against any actions by their agents for them, as they authorised them to act on their behalf.

    Immigration NZ relies on what is presented with applications, if information is wrong, it goes against the applicant. Whatever the agent did in breach of an agreement with the principal (worker or student), that is a matter that they need to resolve between themselves, in their home country, where the agreements were made.

    Immigration NZ will not go there and show extra kindness to the applicants. They should have chosen a more honest agent, that is what they will think.

    • “Immigration NZ will not go there and show extra kindness to the applicants.”
      So Iain Lees-Gallowrownay should never have promised what he could not deliver.
      He’s acted disingenuously and spouts insincere magnanimity, because, I’m guessing, he’s gutless.

      But, well, what’s new?

  6. This immigration lawyer and some of his clients argued that deported or otherwise unsuccessful Indian students and workers that were not allowed to stay in New Zealand would be viewed as ‘failures’ by their families. It would be ‘punishment’ and humiliation, given the high ‘investment’ they made in New Zealand so it was ‘unfair’. So does that then mean we have to give residency to every Indian student and immigrant coming here?




    • @Marc. Apparently it is more important to show ‘kindness” to migrants who might face family “humiliation” from losing money, or not being criminal enough to do what it takes to get residency here ( aka import MDMA or Meth and have a ‘import/export business with nice house in Remer’s, or pay for fake jobs to scumbags or marry have a kid with someone local).

      Even if you are in jail if you are a migrant you are considered desirable and in need of compassion from immigration… not much compassion to the NZ victims of the crimes, families of the NZ deceased and criminalised from drug addiction, growing homeless, decreasing wages and growing redundancy here, or the growing local suicide, poor health rates and mental health rates in NZ…

      nope government focus is always on the ‘growth’ ponzi’s even if the growth is social harm, under modern economic measures, laughable ‘NZ’ degrees, and fake cafes, import/export businesses, liquor stores and fast food businesses driving obesity and diabetes, thats a win.

      We can’t have unsatisfied overseas customers from the world’s undereducated and populous countries not falling for NZ scammers! Think of the growth opportunity there! sarcasm.

      Half the issue, is NZ love of fake economics and inability to calculate risks, aka Air NZ loses money in China, Fonterra loses money in China, Silver Ferns huge loss in South America, Jenny Shipley types giving away ‘loans’ to China on behalf of Mainzeal, but still they think it’s a good idea.

      Even our poor record overseas is not enough for government who love ‘free trade’ and are a laughing stock from promoting something that we can’t even make work ourselves. Government then give the green light to sell of the business or land itself to overseas and so now one of our biggest exports is ‘profits’.

      NZ also feel the desire to import in migrants on dodgy work permits no questions asked, on laughable wages, no language skills or none at all, encourage criminals who fill our jails, fill social welfare, fill housing, fill roads and fill hospitals…. while telling the locals what a great economy we have (based on natural disasters, lowering of educational and worker standards and social harm).

      The problem is, there is now also growing segments of NZ born society that will never work a job in their lives and become unemployable through not being pushed or having real opportunities to work as youths or as single parents, being completely unrealistic about work because they are so self centred (and woke centered) under our individualistic and materialistic society, increasing drug use and god knows what else people do to fill their time while unemployed!

      This is not a dig at those who actually can’t work or genuinely looking for work but are discriminated against, or the figures for the job don’t work, aka it often costs more to work than actually remain on a benefit as wages are so low in NZ, expenses like transport so high, and you can be fired or made redundant so easily here.

  7. So apparently now that NZ Inc. has designed and implemented an immigration and visa system that

    – values people based predominately on their economic worth
    – can’t distinguish between legitimate applicants and scammers
    – has completely messed with tertiary education standards (there’s a $5b p.a. tertiary export education sector to protect after all)
    – has driven down wages and working conditions (NOT just for residents and citizens, but also for the immigrants it has exploited)
    – has caused much of the expertise and skills in various sectors to be transferred to overseas (cheap and exploited) labour through no fault of their own
    – has encouraged scammers through lack of adequate oversight and under-resourcing
    – has led to unethical, bullying and racist behaviours and attitudes in our public service
    – contributed to housing shortages and slum living conditions
    – not to mention providing a career path for some public servants who’d be unlikely to progress further in their previous occupations
    – a steady and growing income for a chain of ticket clippers
    – etc etc etc

    Let’s just allow all those involved to take no responsibility for the damage it’s caused and borrow Hilary Clinton’s RESET Button so that we can start all over again. We need to keep the business of immigration going after all. And it’s not as though good ole egalitarian NuZull should give a shit about all the damaged it’s caused (such as impoverished people being driven into even more indebtedness, and yes – even suicide).

    Then we could even used that same RESET Button elsewhere. The Health Sector (fuck all those people on waiting lists, or waiting for life saving medicines to be approved). The Social Welfare sector (fuck all those people who’ve been ripped and rorted). Even Treaty settlements (Fuck all those Bloody Marys). How about the Justice system?

    It’d all be so transformational and compassionate – I promise!!!!! AND it’ll allow a few Masters of the Universe to do a sideways shuffle and Carry On up the Khyber

    @ Mike (Treen): Apparently your Union should create two or three categories for the people you represent.
    Category 1: the true New Zealander – the citizen, Category 2: the resident, and Category 3: the others. Don’t waste your bloody time on the others! There’s no money in any sort of social solidarity!

    @ Cleangreen: If I’m not mistaken, it looks like someone thinks your son should give his fiance the flik and upgrade to a better model – it was his choice he got himself into that pickle after all. And maybe he could just come back to little ole egalitarian Nu Zull and get himself a maid – or a friend with benefits and bugger all that marriage shit. Love has no value and there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

    oh and btw @ Castro: Ministers and their ‘officials’ have various discretionary powers under the existing legislation – many of which haven’t been used that well. It’s how family members of victims of the Christchurch attack have been allowed to come to NZ, and why we’ve had complete f-ups such as the Karol Shrubek fiasco). It’s truly revolutionary!

    [Just in case – the above heavily laced with /sarc]

  8. Maybe before wasting government money on marketing campaigns (siphon off money to marketing and advertising and gimmicks) work out why local people do not go into the ‘trades’.


    (do they mentioned that you get $20 p/h to drive a truck and $30 p/h to operate a crane 1 km into the sky, $30 p/h for experienced plumbers… )

    Job description should add, will have time off to go to Salvation Army & WINZ for food parcels on those wages with the living expenses you find in many cities in NZ these days)…

    Have some fun and type in some hourly rates.

    For plumber many jobs listed.
    Then start to put in $75 p/h (which is what the plumbers actually charge to clients and transport and call out charges)
    0 jobs

    $50p/h 1 job
    $40 p/h 10 jobs
    $30p/h 5 pages of jobs
    $20 p/h 7 pages of jobs

    So perhaps when employers are allowed to bring someone in on a work permit actually have the wages at the higher end for the experienced people … aka minimum payment of $50p/h not $20 p/h, because why would anyone local go onto the trades and study for years for those wages and a glass ceiling!!!!!!

    trade engineers .. 28 – 40 p/h
    (note most charge out rates are double or triple that plus extras like call out charges, transport and 200% mark ups on materials) for the consumers so clearly massive profits for the employers)

    … Asbestos Labourer
    $25 – $29.99 per hour
    classification: Trades & ServicesTrades & ServicessubClassification: LabourersLabourers
    Class 2 Truck Driver with Labouring experience
    Varied Auckland job locations includes working away
    Friendly team culture with asbestos training prospects
    Seeking a class 2 Truck Driver with a clean driving history coupled with asbestos handling or labouring experience

    Class 2 Driver / Scaffolding Worker (Cromwell)
    Listed twenty nine days ago29d ago
    at DKW Recruitment Group
    This is a Contract/Temp job
    location: OtagoOtagoarea: Rest of OtagoRest of Otago
    $20 – $24.99 per hour

    Drainlayer Foreman
    Listed twenty six days ago26d ago
    at Hard Hat Recruits
    This is a Full Time job
    location: AucklandAuckland
    $30 – $34.99 per hour


  9. “Why do we bother electing a government if the bureaucrats continue to carry on in the old ways?”

    Just let the bureacratic middle men and women govern

    Cut out the ministerial front men & women


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