Workers being forced back to China without a day in court


Unite Union is appealing to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway to allow seven Chinese construction workers to be allowed to stay in New Zealand so they can testify in an Employment Relations Authority hearing scheduled for October and November this year.

The seven workers are part of a group of 30 who are taking legal action against National Personnel Limited for failing to comply with their employment agreements during the second half of last year when dozens of workers arrived expecting full-time work and the company was unable or unwilling to provide that work. NPL also evicted them from their shared accommodation in January this year.

NPL only started giving most of them guaranteed work after a legal case was initiated against them at the end of last year.

All applicants should have the right to participate in the case. It is wrong to force the seven listed below out of New Zealand before then because their one-year visas have expired.

Iain Lees-galloway had previously made a public commitment to allow these workers who were being evicted from NPL-controlled accommodation that Immigration NZ would facilitate the workers being able to change visas and employers from being dependent on NPL. (See: Move to help stranded Chinese workers with visa variation)

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Galloway told TV1 News: “I do agree that where it’s appropriate that variations to visas should be put in place, especially when people have come forward and made claims of exploitation or made claims that their visa conditions haven’t been met,” he said. (See Immigration NZ to help 23 Chinese workers left jobless and homeless in Auckland

This promise has proved to be a lie.

The only workers given new open visas are those selected to give evidence for Immigration NZ at a possible immigration fraud case. But all of the workers assisted Immigration NZ in their investigations of possible immigration fraud. Most members have received new visas to assist the INZ case but that seems unfair to the remaining seven for them to be refused.

Either the minister was being disingenuous or his department has sabotaged his genuine offer of help.

Which is it, Iain?

NPL was allowed to bring dozens of workers to NZ with Immigration NZ approval and they bear at least a moral responsibility for the workers’ situation if they did not check the documentation properly at the time before these workers arrived. To impose more stringent conditions now, which seems to be happening, seems unfair.

Unite have job offers from reputable companies in the construction industry. We have asked Immigration NZ to give visas to these workers so they are not being forced home after only one year in the country during which they had no regular work for six months.

The workers had also paid around $50,000 each to recruitment agencies in China acting on behalf of NPL.

New Zealand as a whole should ashamed of itself for allowing this situation to have developed. We owe these workers an apology and these workers are victims and should be treated with generosity and care. The least we can do is give them the chance to renew their visas, take part in the legal case to its conclusion, and earn back at least some of what they have lost.


  1. So INZ reverting to kind?, or I L-G capture once again?
    Once again, get ’em out of the country as quickly as possible before they’re able to show the system up to be a complete farce.
    Then wonder why immigrants are reluctant to come forward to report exploitation (which by the way, suits MBIE just fine – it lessens the workload under a bugger’s muddle that STILL isn’t up to it, whatever the excuse)

    Then of course, still tie visas to specific employers where possible – it lessens the chance of some pesky little “scum” stirring things up too much (/sarc)

  2. “New Zealand as a whole owe these workers an apology and to at least be given the chance to earn back what they have lost….”

    No they don’t. How can the whole of NZ be responsible for their plight? Bit of a stretch there.

    They need to prosecute the recruitment agencies in China acting on behalf of NPL and NPL who took their money with fake stories of NZ streets paved with gold residencies.

    They need to stop issuing work visas so that more migrants are not scammed out of their money. They need to stop allowing jobs like working at Burger King or on a low wage coming here.

    We have people on benefits who are better off than working here because our wages have fallen so low.

    The negation of supermarket workers by unions got an offer of a 0% pay rise for peats sake. Work it out. Why would any employees offer a pay rise (or even bother to retain workers) when they have hundreds of thousands of desperate workers who want to work for them being bought into NZ?

    Giving out more work visas is clearly keeping the scams going and more and more migrants will be arriving to claim the same issue, aka they were promised the world and gave them all their money. If that then results in them getting legitimate visas for being caught up in the scams or NZ handing out work visas to pay back the debt of the original work visa, keeps it all going.

    All these incoming migrants might be the greatest people in the world, but NZ has an obligation to it’s own homeless who need housing, our own people on medical waiting lists and needing a bed, our own kids who are going without as their parents can’t seem to get a job that pays enough to live on or another child is born here in a visa scam!

    Jobseeker up 14,000, not a time to allow more migrants who are up to their eyes in debt to come to NZ and commit more desperate acts to stay here or earn money here to pay it back.

    People coming here can have kids here, then you are getting messy situations with kids being born, parents who don’t have residency etc…

    Doesn’t need to happen!

    • ON 30 June 2017 there were 152,432, temporary workers present in New Zealand. It was 16 per cent higher than the year before.

      By this year it is reported that there are now 250,000 temporary workers present in NZ from 2018… again a major escalation of numbers.

      2019 who knows at this rate!!! But we do know that hardship grants are up, jobseeker are up, NZ domestic tertiary attendance down, innovation is down…

      From this we can work out, NZ is not becoming a better country in most measures, from this alarming trend of the visa’s themselves becoming the Ponzi!

    • So you don’t think lil ole nu Zilln has ANY responsibility in being party to what has become a global trend in exploitation and trafficking?
      It’s not OK to have New Zealanders exploited, but it’s somehow not so bad if they’re foreigners apparently ‘cos you know, after all we can’t be the world’s policeman . (We can at LEAST not be party to it all, and actively stamp out the shit that’s happening on NZ soil).
      – We have a system that treats anyone coming here as economic units – whether they’re intended to prop up a shitty tertiary education sector whose antics are a matter of record, or whether its supposedly for ‘skill shortages’ (or should that be skull shortages).
      – We shove it all under a Ministry for Everything that has a business imperative as it’s primary focus (created by the wizards Joyce and Coleman – Messrs Mr Fixits) and which adheres to the neo-liberal corporate agenda of reducing costs, outsourcing where possible and all the kaka that goes with it. Any social or cultural imperatives are unimportant when it comes to advancing our business needs. It’s ‘Innovative’ dontcha know! Ideally, and just like many other public service agencies that have a social component to their activities, we parachute in a CEOor generic manager from the former empire even if, and before they’ve hardly come to know the place – because ya know, it’s “best practice” and it’s what they do in other jurisdictions operating under the neo-liberal agenda.
      – And to keep it all chugging along nicely and in line with past practice (even though we have a kind and transformational government), we continue to let this complete fuckup that it is rip. A little tinkering here, a bit there. Huge staff turnover is OK; Ray Schists are OK; encouraging anyone in the ticket clipper supply chain to become an Advisor is OK – even if they’ve a record of fraud, or have cosy little relationships with other business interests benefiting from immigrant imports (rather than having them under the aegis of say the legal profession that has proper oversight and potential for sanction).
      – Even though we know many immigrants are coming from places where corruption is rife, overt even, we reduce capability in those places. We don’t even make any attempt to warn targets of exploitation (such as by way of advertising), and we continue to allow bullshit and false promises and hopes to be spread.
      Demographic profiling and computer says “NO” is far more cost effective.

      It’s a bit weird really. I’m still trying to figure out whether the Minister is a bit of a masochist, an ideologue, or whether there’s a religious component to ‘the complete faith he has in his officials’
      We know he’s a ‘nice guy’ – or so I’m assured. But then we also know he’s been burned once (probably more), and we know in his youth he was exploited himself in the workplace. Maybe his workplace exploitation is what makes it OK even though his exploitation is NOTHING like the exploitation experienced by many immigrants (no welfare options to fall back on; severe indebtedness; shaming and so on).
      Yea/nah – lil ‘ole Nu Zilln has no responsibility to try and stop and correct our being party to people being used and abused

      We tie visas to a specific employer, rather than simply to a sector – a recipe for exploitation unless you believe lil ‘ole Nu Zilln doesn’t have any unscrupulous employers

      • I think our government is to blame OnceWasTim by giving out the visas and the middle men who are making money from the process.

        It is crazy to think the whole of NZ is to blame, many who are against the migrants coming to be exploited in the first place. They and then labeled racist for their views on prevention of exploitation!

        The migrant exploitation at the same time creates exploitation for the locals which nobody even bothers to talk about!

        So we have an exploitative labour market, we do not solve that by giving out more visas and continuing the demand to exploit more and more people here and lower NZ wages.

        If they end the visas, they end the scams. It will help the migrants already here as well as they are like the locals their wages are dropping too.

      • Oh btw……Just so I make my point clear re ‘Advisors’:
        There’s a bloody big difference (a gaping bloody hole in fact) between those providing legitimate Immigration advice – usually legal firms whose principals are lawyers and who supervise and provide proper oversight of their staff – the likes of a McClymont, an Ozzie M, a Tauranga firm or two, and even a de la Mere or a Singh or two AND some ticket clipper opportunist running a security firm on the side, or a Labour Hire company, or someone that jumps between immigration advice and PTE that you later have to prosecute before it becomes too embarrassing, or someone who professes a guarantee of PR (for a fee) and who runs businesses on the side depending on the current skull shortage list.
        Maybe it’s time to listen to a few at the coalface Minister!
        Far better than all that shite and having to progress things “as employment matters that you can’t comment on”.

        • I bet if you ask many migrants who have come here after paying a lot of money, if they would do it all again, they would say, no, and wish they had never come here.

          The government can’t stop all these snake sales people legitimate or not in every country , selling the NZ work visas, unless it is clearer before the applicants hand over the money that they will not get a job with the visa, even if they do it will probably pay poorly, and it is a scam to exploit them and they will probably have to deceive to get the visa in the first place like pretend to have more money.

          The government has to bite the bullet and stop all the working visas, or limit it at the very least to a quota of 50,000 or less…. and only the highest paid, most qualified, those already have a real job for a real period of time like 1 year, and can pass a skills and language test before they get here to check they really can do what they state and have a likely chance of success.

          They also need to stop the family visas piggy backing off and marriage visas. Pressure is being put on the work visa appliant to get the visa and any job here so they can bring the rest of the family who lend them the money, and if it doesn’t go as planned they are all losers including the relationship that should not be there in the first place. AKA money changing hands and pressure to get relatives over or marry people. Everyone should only be able to get residency here on their own merits.

          Maybe the answer is only have a few legitimate immigration advisors – to weed out the worst offenders as well as the above quotas.

          • “I bet if you ask many migrants who have come here after paying a lot of money, if they would do it all again, they would say, no, and wish they had never come here.”
            Agreed! I’ve crossed paths with many of them

            And for much of the rest of your comment – you’re making my point for me. Thank you.
            We can at least make an effort, and it’s becoming harder and harder to understand and justify why we’re not doing as well as other nayshuns in the way we handle immigrants fairly and ethically. (some of them even bordering on 3rd World status. Christ!!!!!! Oman even)

      • “So you don’t think lil ole nu Zilln has ANY responsibility in being party to what has become a global trend in exploitation and trafficking?” Well said, Tim. Of course we do – no man is an island. Kia kaha.

  3. My problem is that if you pay $50k to work in a country you must realise there is a good chance it’s a scam or you are intending to scam. How will you even make that back when the average wage of that country is $45k pa? If ILG does not renew visa’s and sends back all the workers in immigration fraud cases that is OK. The employers are not the only ones who are committing fraud, most of the workers/students sign documents knowing them to be untrue – then complain only when things are going pear shaped. If I sign a legal document that is untrue I can be prosecuted, the same applies for migrants.

    • Great point Lucy, because it can take Kiwis decades to pay off their student loans of similar amounts on NZ wages… we have low wages, not a good idea to borrow to work in NZ!

      The kiwi’s themselves often have to leave too, which is one of my points, that just changing the ethnicity of people working in NZ will not change existing issues which are, it is hard to live on most NZ wages and incomes!

      Having more poor people being topped up by by benefits to survive not matter what the ethnicity local or migrant, is not a good idea in the long term, especially if you want to get wages and benefits up to more humane levels here.

    • Lucy, sometimes the agents or those who they represent, are unreliable. About 15 years ago I got a job teaching English in Sth Korea, via an Auckland based agent, who would have been paid by the ‘school’ in Sth Korea.

      When I arrived, nothing was as depicted. The teachers’apartment was non-existent, and the other teacher boarded with an elderly Korean couple. I was given the absent son’s room of the school owner – occupied by a double bed which spanned the full width of the room, so that I had to crawl up from the bottom of the bed to use it. Eventually they provided me with a stand-alone ‘room’ with no toilet or cooking facilities, down a couple of alleyways, in the corner of a car park near the other teacher’s building. I declined to move in, whereupon the owner’s wife started locking me out at night. The school was two rooms in a multi-purpose building, with virtually no teachers’ aids or programmes for the advertised courses, and as the owner’s English was limited, this was difficult to discuss.

      The other teacher had no academic qualifications, was working illegally, was a bit of a nervous wreck, and had given notice by the time that I arrived. Her air tickets had vanished from her rented room, so I carried my tickets, passport, papers, cash etc around with me at all times, including going to the lavatory.
      I ate at the nearby university cafeteria, or from street market stalls, always choosing often-unidentified deep-fried food figuring that it would be safe – and it was. I quit with the other teacher.

      More recently I had a Chinese homestay student, via university student accommodation, who turned out to be at the wrong university – thanks to his agent back home. He was rather distracted and kept asking me what university he was at – I took him around to our local Chinese takeaway to get them to provide a friendly translation service, and the university got it all sorted for him.

      Chinese and South Koreans I know – all nice people – often aim at getting to America, for education and work, with Canada second, maybe Australia third – and NZ pops up in there somewhere. But there are some extremely fluid situations, and in countries so very different from ours, and in countries where education and bettering one’s prospects are hungered after in a way largely unknown here, it is not necessarily unreasonable to expect to pay large sums of money for the opportunity of a brighter future.

      Contrary to what many Kiwis think, Asian students here are not all from rich families, but often from families making big sacrifices to provide opportunities for them. One of my students, who is still a friend, had his wife working back home to fund him getting tertiary qualifications in NZ. They work very hard – all mine got A passes.

      Often we know SFA about them, and may judge them on scant facts.

  4. Mike we don’t have a REAL minister of labour only a pretend one.

    Workers rights have not moved an inch since the fall of the last National government and won’t until we have a strong progressive socialist Labour party to advance much needed support in legislation that safeguards union and workers rights within the neo liberal capitalist system.
    Rich people have rights and a voice in parliament and government but what about the rest of us !!!!!!!
    Something has too change.

  5. Mike we don’t have a REAL minister of labour only a pretend one.

    Workers rights have not moved an inch since the fall of the last National government and won’t until we have a strong progressive socialist Labour party to advance much needed support in legislation that safeguards union and workers rights within the neo liberal capitalist system.
    Rich people have rights and a voice in parliament and government but what about the rest of us !!!!!!!
    Something has too change.

    • Since the unions are now advocating on behalf of the world’s most populous countries unemployed coming to NZ for a shit job here, it solves the Rogernomics caused worker shortages and now employers don’t have to give any sort of pay raise to retain staff due to unprecedented numbers of work visas, not sure it is just the ministry of labour’s fault.

  6. “This promise has proved to be a lie.”
    Hah, did you really expect another outcome, Mike Treen? ALL NZ governments are made up of liars.

  7. Immigration NZ is simply a well designed exploitation system or SCAM. Encourage people to come here, slave their guts out, or spend their ‘investment’, and if they get any health issues, or bring other ‘issues’, NZ Inc gets rid of most very swiftly, in sometimes cunning ways.

    Slaves and stupid ‘investors’ are welcomed, tourists also, but the rest can f*** off, as per usual.

    Nothing new in Little Hobbit Land Down Under.

  8. Where is the economic sense in paying $50,000 to a recruitment agency to get a job which pays around $52,000 per year and is supposed to only last as long as a 1 year visa? What is the upside? What is missing from this story?

    • Once here migrants are very hard to deport, so it’s getting in, and then using any means possible to stay because they can appeal and appeal the deportation and then even if they have an order, our government turns a blind eye, . NZ government hasn’t noticed this issue obviously or wants the illegal labour operating here.

      “Investigators joke about having a ‘whip around’ or ‘raffles’ to pay for deporting target after budget blowout, according to Immigration NZ emails.
      Immigration New Zealand was forced to stop deporting all but the riskiest illegal immigrants after a budget blowout earlier this year.

      No one was to be deported unless they were named on a list created by Immigration management when the funding shortfall was discovered in January.”

      It makes no sense with the lack of taxes government receive for most of the low end jobs mean that many of the applicants become net recipients of tax not tax payers, that is not even looking at the cost of when things go wrong and end up in the criminal system which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per person and the cost of approving visas, managing the process and then trying to make them leave once the visa expires including legal and deportation costs… It is costing a fortune to have the mass immigration.

      The end game is to overload the social welfare system and destroy it. Populous low wage countries don’t have welfare systems, they can’t afford them so it’s getting NZ into a position where NZ is a low wage economy without a welfare system and everything is user pays. Selling assets (or giving them away like water) hastens the situation because the capital assets and income of the country is reducing and reliance on other countries is increasing.

  9. Hah, I remember ‘comrade’ Lees Galloway trotting along with UNITE, First Union and SFU members during picketing and protest marches in Central Auckland, when he was an opposition spokesperson. Now he has a nice ministerial limousine, a neat office, and a good salary, the middle finger is not shown expressly, but through his actions, towards his former ‘comrades’ in the unions, no matter what it is about.

    He did his foot work, to get some votes, got into government with Jacinda, Winston et al, now he does not need those unionists anymore. Once he leaves politics, many well paid other jobs will wait for him, perhaps also a diplomatic posting somewhere.

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