Unite Union and the Migrant Workers Association presented a 15,000-strong petition on Monday May 10, to both a Green and Labour Party MP at the union offices in Auckland
Green MP and Immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March and Labour MP Marja Lubeck who chairs the Education and Workforce Select Committee of Parliament, received the petition.
Unite Union advocate Mike Treen said that “the petition essentially calls on the government to use the Covid crisis as an opportunity to fix long-standing problems associated with New Zealand’s temporary migration system. Pre-Covid New Zealand had over 300,000 people here on temporary work visas. But many of these visa holders had been sold a promise that they would get residency eventually that New Zealand had failed to follow through on. In fact in the last three years it has been made much more difficult.
“But these workers now play an essential role in the economy and cannot be replaced in the post-Covid world. It makes sense from an economic and social justice standpoint to allow them to transition to residency if they want to.
“A few thousands more have also overstayed visas and should be given an amnesty to allow them to stay as well. Again most of these workers were brought here on false promises and many have been subject to cruel exploitation. They have been forced to overstay their visas as a consequence so they can pay back the costs of coming here and to provide for their families back home.
“All of these workers have proven they are able to work hard and contribute to rebuilding New Zealand in the still Covid-plaugued world. It is cruel and inhumane to be arresting, jailing and deporting people at this time.
“We have run this petition online but have also got thousands of people to sign at public events and in workplaces. There is an obvious broad, public sympathy for the proposal.
“We need an amnesty and pathways to residency now,” said Mike Treen