Chinese workers face weeks more in prison and must be released

Nine Chinese workers are still being detained at Mt Eden Prison and could be detained many weeks more because of changes to Chinese government policies that require two weeks in isolation in New Zealand before deportation.
They will then face three weeks in quarantine isolation in China at their own expense.
Unite Union says they should be released while an investigation is held into the systems of migrant labour exploitation and trafficking that have been allowed to grow in New zealand with the connivance of successive governments.
Unite have asked the Honorable Matthew Robson to act for the workers and he has drafted an appeal for their release to the three ministers responsible to follow the Migrant Exploitation Policy of the government and release the workers and allow them to assist to get to the bottom of the organised exploitation and human trafficking
Whole industries like construction are dependent on migrant workers. Every time the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment does an audit of a particular industry (including construction) they have found a majority of employers were not compliant with New Zealand minimum legal labour law requirements.
Labour systems where all work is subcontracted, then subcontracted then subcontracted again are impossible to police.
Recently I attended a conference on migrant labour trafficking and exploitation at parliament. A key speaker was Rob Broadbridge Head of Contract Management for Chorus. Chorus who ran just this subcontractor model for the fibre rollout and engaged 900 subcontractors with 10,000 imported workers on temporary or no visas. Inevitably it was exposed that many workers were being paid less than their legal minimum entitlements. He was at this conference to say that they have learned lessons on how to improve their “supply lines” but even he had to admit that it was impossible to get information from staff when visas were still tied to the employer.
Employers are never prosecuted. Only workers who don’t have a valid visa get picked up, locked up and deported. We should be using the information we can obtain from these workers to expose and break up the systems of exploitation that exist.
But none of these workers would be able to work in New Zealand unless employers were routinely breaking the law.
No one would pay $20,000 like these nine workers have for visas to New Zealand unless the human traffickers are able to sell them a false dream of finding work easily without a work visa or that they could change their visa status after they arrived.
Unite Union asks New Zealanders to look at their own histories before criticising these workers.
How many of you have worked cash jobs or paid for work from tradies with cash? How many of you have done your OE and worked under the table jobs?
How many Kiwis are of Irish descent and can tell stories of their forebears or themselves travelling the globe and working in construction over the last 200 years under various visa statuses because they want their families back home to be able to survive.
Do we think that the one million Kiwis living and working overseas at the moment should be thrown in prison for minor visa violations?
The 9 Chinese workers are not criminals, they are victims of migrant labour exploitation and should be allowed to help us expose that . Even one of the prison staff was moved to comment that “we have enough people here who don’t want to work, why lock up someone who does?”


  1. Excellent commentary, Mike.

    Sadly, business in NZ has always been tainted with attempts to evade laws designed to protect workers and the environment.

    Now that the entire world is economically and environmentally stressed, the temptation to break or circumvent laws is even greater. And policing is arguably the weakest it has ever been.

    The good news is, the entire globalised system is on its last legs.

    The bad news is, those in charge refuse to see the writing on the wall and think we can just carry on as we have, looting, polluting and exploiting.

    ‘Interesting times’ just keep getting more ‘interesting’.

  2. Weird how the lefties think current workers should pay more taxes but cash illegal workers should get a free ride in NZ and it’s everyone elses fault that they took an expensive ticket to NZ to work for cash, and then upon being discovered all the woke who never bother to help workers working legally get ahead, rush to help them.

    We also have zoom so the workers can easily testify from China about their exploitation and get a deposition out in the weeks they are in prison. Stop rewarding illegal behaviour, because it is becoming dominant in NZ!

    The illegal cash workers are the ones getting ahead in NZ, like this Auckland family. People arrive as visitors or fail to meet criteria to stay here, and never leave NZ. “Hao and her late husband did not have work visas, but they established a small but very successful home painting business enabling them to buy a mortgage-free home,” Delamere said.”

    Many working class families in NZ working legally can’t afford a mortgage free home in one of the most expensive suburbs of Auckland, while bringing relatives over and ensuring their children pick up NZ citizenship and get the best education and sports possible with the NZ taxpayers paying.

    Know loads of people denied ACC, but luckily if you are a widow of someone working illegally in NZ who dies, you will be paid out by NZ ACC without having paid any premiums or even live in NZ! Wonder how long ACC wil last for with this going on?

    It is about time NZ taxes and resources are given to those in NZ who pay their taxes and are currently struggling in many cases while it is becoming harder to get basic health care anymore due to excessive waiting lists.

    Apparently there is a free health clinic on the North Shore, and a friend was telling me how disgusted they were as they took their sick child in, the amount of Mercedes and expensive cars parked outside to get the ‘free’ doctors visits. Sadly that means those who need the free health care the most now have to wait excessive amounts of time to get it. Something is wrong.

    Illegal workers and overstayers all need services in NZ like housing and health care and often are involved in other criminal activities or used by criminals to help them. With the Chinese builder who fell off the roof and died, as well as the work safe issues, undercutting other builders, what are the standards of the house so poorly built and the long term deaths from using this type of labour (CTV building also had an engineer from South Africa who apparently used identity fraud to pretend he knew what he was doing, still not prosecuted with 115 deaths)? Time to turn off the tap and stop rewarding illegal workers in NZ.

    • Yes and we also have white South Africans who have brought their elderly parents here now asking for things and moaning about our new taxes on investments homes meanwhile they are claiming the accommodation supplement. These people are directly benefitting from our state systems and they haven’t contributed much in taxes as they haven’t been living here for very long it makes me sick and angry at the same time.

    • Your point about the South African fake engineer illustrates Mikes point rather than your own: big companies not doing due diligence because they can save money. Sure, some people come over on their own bat to work illegally, and of course when they are caught they can expect to be sent home, but it is far more serious when companies illegally recruit and exploit labour, and in these cases the emphasis should be on dealing to the serious criminals, such as those who had the CCTV building built.
      When I was in my twenties I worked illegally in China and Korea, and it was well known that China took no action against illegal white workers, and Korea would expel them but allow them to return in short order. Some of the Korean agents who recruited foreign workers were imprisoned. We have it back to front. As Mike says, these foreign workers are no better or worse than anybody else trying to get by. Sure, NZ has to look after its own workers, but lock up the big guys, not the little guys.

  3. Capitalism has always required indentured slaves. Workers tied to a single employer with no right or ability to change, even within the industry they are in, are an encouragement and enabling mechanism for the worst types of “employer”. To then add the costs onto the backs of the worker when the whole dodgy facade crumbles is to show the emptiness of any progress from slavery for those at the bottom of the capitalist system

  4. Illegal workers exploitation begins in their home countries and continues in New Zealand. One solution is a return to compulsory unionism.
    Over a five year period my wife and I have assisted a total of about ten Chinese workers who came here illegally. Their stories are always the same.
    In rural Western China people are trapped in poverty and desperate to find a way out. Most of the people have a little more than a primary school education and almost no knowledge of the outside world. What little they can glean is that foreigners drive cars, are well dressed, have clean, comfortable homes and well paid jobs.

    There is, of course, the official Communist Party line about overseas countries being full of criminals, degenerates and empty headed celebrities. Ignorant as these people may be they know that is all bullshit because after all the Party always lies to them.

    A confidence trickster arrives and tells them that they can obtain a passport and a work visa and they have a string of success stories from people they have already arranged to work abroad.

    Families scrape together an enormous amount to send one of their young people overseas. Around ten thousand yuan seems common.

    What they get is a Chinese passport with a visitor’s visa( I know about eight of these). Why do they not notice it is not a work visa?
    THEY CANNOT SPEAK, READ OR UNDERSTAND ENGLISH. If they do ask questions about the validity of their visas they are told their employer can fix any situation that may arise( with that good old Chinese solution of palm greasing).
    They arrive at Auckland Airport, usually as part of a group tour, meet their contacts, and off to work they go.

    They find themselves working on building sites, in orchards, market gardens working for less than the minimum wage, sleeping on concrete floors and threatened with the police if they complain. They have to stoically endure in the hopes that one day things may get better. The people who exploit them are usually their own countrymen and women.

    I know about this because Chinese friends of my wife came in contact with such people and referred them to her and myself as someone who knew something about New Zealand law.

    They show me their visas and it is heart breaking to tell them they are worthless. We can only help them by referring them to a sympathetic immigration consultant and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

    I took some to the Chinese Consulate and the welcoming arms of the Party were extended to wave them away( fuck off and take that foreigner with you). Such is the care and consideration of the Chinese Communist Party for its citizens.

    A house building boom is likely to play right into the hands of the utter bastards who exploit these people.
    As an contractor and employer I employed people and was told if I employed a person who did not have the right to work in this country I faced up to $100,000 in fines and/or imprisonment.

    I have yet to hear of any employer being prosecuted to this extent.

    As to what to do with the victims of this exploitation I truly think they make better and harder working citizens than Yang Jian, Zhong, Bill Liu and the various Chinese wealthy arseholes who us as a getaway for the next Cultural Revolution when the Chinese transition from one meglomanaic to another goes wrong.

    Ten thousand years of life to the Dalai Lama. Stuff the Chinese Communist Party.

    • In the last 40 odd years China has lifted approx 700 million out of “poverty” and this process has accelerated over the last decade.
      Many people try to move to other lands such as NZ for a variety of reasons but war and famine are pretty hard to ignore
      NZ’s system of allowing the recently increased immigration on many pretexts is driven by the likes of Business NZ enjoying more consumers as well as many ruthless exploiters of bonded workers.
      How did we get on before these “workers” were brought in to fill employers wants but without any consequence to those employers of needing to address and pay for the pressure on the infrastructure met by the taxpayers so subsidising these capitalist who ignore their young Kiwi job seekers.
      We are being destabalised by the influx through workers, students and relatives gaining residency and more.
      Try and buy a house on a workers wage in a one earner family. Not so long ago that was the norm, but now a lost dream.

  5. If we allow these Chinese workers to stay aren’t we setting a bad precedent. I am sure they were more than aware they were in our country illegally and if we are to let them stay then the same courtesy needs to be shown for the ten thousand PI overstayers. Now his opens up a can of worms. And the people that brought these Chinese worker here and have exploited them need to be punished otherwise we might as well open the flood gates.

    • +1 covid is pa, Tuibelle – there are many in NZ who can’t afford thousands for plane tickets to work illegally offshore, maybe we should be prioritising help to NZ citizens who have no disposable money at all to Jetset the global job market (while helping exploiters) and not pay any taxes.

  6. Covid is pa; we can prosecute the employers in New Zealand that exploit these workers. We cannot do anything about the Chinese exploiters because they are in China and the Chinese government does not care.

    I did not say the Chinese workers should be allowed to stay but I do believe they are better people, and would make better citizens, than the shit we do allow to stay here.

    Like PI overstayers and other illegal immigrants they would not come here at all if they could make a decent living in their own countries.

    Please bear that in mind next time our regular Beijing correspondent, Mark, tells us what a great job the Chinese Communist Party does in lifting Chinese people out of poverty.

    Because I am an old man I remember the growling about Vietnamese, Cambodian, Palestinian and Sri Lankan refugees when they arrived and my dad told me about the gripes about the Polish, Czech and Hungarian refugees who came here after World War II.

    Where are these refugees now? Successfully intergrated into our society. Where are the better off Poms whose immigration we supported?
    They whinged around New Zealand, then whinged around Australia, some went to Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia and whinged around there then whinged back to the land of Pom. What a waste of time and money!
    My son is in the RAF and when I go to the UK to visit him and my grandchildren I always meet one of these whingers who recognise my accent and tell me how much they disliked New Zealand.
    To this I can only reply,’ You went there. You did not like it. You came home. We are happy you did so. Now fucking shut up about it!’
    And I will.

    • They can stop the work and visitor permits being granted easily but asking for large ‘bonds’ in fraud countries. Doesn’t help that the worst fraud countries NZ immigration lets them do their own visas! Crazy. Bring all visas back on-shore for a start.

  7. “And the people that brought these Chinese worker here and have exploited them need to be punished otherwise we might as well open the flood gates.”
    You’ve hit on the crutch of it, and it isn’t just Chinese workers

    But it’s all been working as designed (whether by accident or by the unintended consequences of immigration policy over many years, but industrialised since the establishment of the Ministry for Everything).
    And while there are so-called leftie commenters that are ready to bash the exploited because it’s an easy option – and possible solution, the situation will never change unless there are consequences for the international network of exploiters who see nothing wrong with making an earn out of people.

    Where there’s money to be made, people will do anything – even including pissing on the “fundamentals” of their faith and religion, or just because they’re basically sociopathic arseholes.

    They include liquor shop barons, orchard owners outsourcing their responsibilities to ticket clippers prepared to take the risks, shoddy advisors not operating under the aegis of qualified members of the legal profession where, at the least there is some recourse, shoddy PTEs, vertically integrated operations of the already mentioned ……. and all enabled and facilitated by so-called “best practice” policy by government bureaucrats.
    And that “best practice” policy is usually nothing more that what has been copied and adapted from other jurisdictions – usually from the former Empire where things like blackbirding were Norman Normal.

    What never ceases to amaze me is the hypocrisy and double standards, which if you reread Mike Treen’s post, should be evident.
    – Kiwis are allowed their big OE, others are not
    – Kiwis are allowed to cross the ditch to get a better earn, nobody should come here on the basis of perceived better prospects OR just because they’ve been bullshitted to
    – Kiwis never break the law overseas in the jurisdiction they’re in, but ‘those’ people are just trying to pull our tits
    – Dutton is a c**t, but we’re OK because the shit we’re pulling is not nearly as bad
    – “it will never end, it will go on and on”. It will but only because we’ve commodified residency and citizenship, AND because “WE” created and encouraged the opportunity.

    And btw @SaveNZ, its only recently (as in the past 2 or 3 years) that the LI has started to take immigrant exploitation seriously. Before that, their priorities were in things like stab-proof vests, and hoping for some Border Force type reality TV show to capture them at their best.
    You’re an expert in digging up media links – check out a few that show them where their BS and spin is what they were really about – i.e. apart from just wanting an easy ride. To paraphrase “We’ve got enough inspectors”; “We now realise the problem is systemic”; demographic profiling of people from various hemi and demi spheres of the World is not racist; I’m not Ray Schist but these people are scum; etc., etc., etc.

    If there has to be casualties, who do you think they should be? I’d rather they were the people actively involved in making it all happen rather than their victims.
    There are people who have no business pretending to be serving the public, there are business owners who should not be in business if their only way of staying viable is by exploiting people – from wherever they come.

    • The difference is that Kiwis used to do an OE for two years and then come back to NZ. Many migrants to NZ never leave and we can’t deport them. Our justices system is full of many complex cases of migrants that seem to be doing massive social harm but just get a slap on the wrist by NZ justice. The there are the many that between having kids in NZ they also bringing over as many relatives as they can. Wages don’t drop in OZ, 50% of employer exploiters from Labour Inspectorate are migrant employers themselves, nobody cancels their visas and deports them. In NZ as we have a very small population which is now engulfed with migrant activity and the woke and rightwingers are their biggest advocates. As a final straw with NZ government giving away so many free NZ passports, other countries are cutting down on the entitlements that Kiwis used to get in other countries such as the UK and OZ. There are also security concerns with NZ’s pycophant relationship with China and how it effects the Pacific going forward.

  8. “….Kiwis used to do an OE for two years and then come back to NZ.”
    That’s the theory @ SaveNZ – which is what I understand you did. But if you think “we” are any different – aspirationally or otherwise from “them”, I think you’re mistaken.
    Two years of listening to Mora’s “calling home” on RNZ’s Sunday suggests otherwise for a start.
    Kiwis go on their big OE, get into relationships, work under the table and generally play whatever the system is in other jurisdictions.
    We’re in total agreement however, that the cistern is fucked.
    WE have made residency and citizenship little more than a tradeable commodity (Thiel being the most high profile example) and it’s there to be taken advantage of just as Kiwis take advantage of whatever policies are in effect in other jurisdictions.
    And what’s more, this most recent example of the Chinese workers being the victims of human trafficking comes as NO FUCKING SURPRISE AT ALL. They could have come from anywhere else on the planet – and do.
    But if you think there are not Kiwis (PRs and Citizens ) involved in this disgusting shit, I think you should delve a little deeper.
    We’ve had shoddy immigration advisors (as opposed to the genuine ones such as Robson and many others) with little vertically integrated interests in PTEs, Labour Hire, bloody Beauty Salons and Hairdressers FFS, or anything else that goes on supposed skills shortage lists ……. who have links to offshore interests.
    WE let it happen. WE have created our own set of refugees that now seek asylum elsewhere ( I personally know of several)
    WE (as in our administration) have bullshitted and lied to them; made various promises that have not been kept; changed the rules on them midway through the game; and basically enabled and fostered the entire cistern – industrialising it with the creation of the Ministry for Everything – a Ministry that has a culture of growth in the name of economic development using whatever resources are available to them – including people. We’ve even dressed it up as “best practice” on the basis that it’s what our fellow allies still dealing with the hegemony of our former colonial masters have done. Actually there are others that have done better than US.

    Anyway, I’m not going to get into another rant, but you should also consider the increase in the number of Section 61 appeals that was happening a short while ago and why that might be. (Admittedly, that was probably at the time the former Munster I L-G was preoccupied on other matters, but his protege Faafoi is just as useful for different reasons having studied in the arts of procrastination and how best to become the teacher’s pet).
    Let’s STOP keeping on doing what we’re doing and expecting a different outcome and realise that it might be the cistern, culture and structures that contribute to our policies might need review.
    Hard I know when those in power have grown up knowing experiencing not much else other than how to operate in the neoliberal “ecosystem”

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