THE REBUILD AND DODGY EMPLOYERS
What does Labour intend to do to protect vulnerable migrant workers?
CHRISTCHURCH – While housing and immigration policies are important political issues another key concern for many Filipino workers is job security and their protection from dubious recruitment agencies and exploitative employers.
Christchurch has been a source of both hope and despair – despair for all those lives affected by the great tragedy and hope for the workers overseas who find opportunity in the rebuild. However, for many that hope turned into false hope after finding themselves in phony employment contracts and with only half-baked promises of stable employment opportunities.
Too often we hear of stories where Filipinos are recruited to rebuild Christchurch under dubious contracts; being paid with wages lower than what was previously agreed and being housed in dilapidated accommodation facilities. This creates problems for them not just here, but also for their families back home, who are heavily reliant on remittances.
We asked, “what does Labour intend to do to protect vulnerable migrant workers?”
Andrew Little reveals that he gets personal letters from exploited workers asking for help with their current situation, so he is very much aware of this issue. Acting in his capacity as the opposition leader Little presses the government hard to “take into account” such reports.
“We need to ensure that the minimum labour standards are being upheld and that the proper government agencies [protecting migrants] are actually doing their jobs.”
Little also says that for most foreign workers the only help they know of is to “call an 0800 number”, but many do not actually find that helpful. Many require a face-to-face channel to express their qualms and find a concrete solution to their problems.
He says that a health and safety inspectorate called Work Safe New Zealand “is stepping up its game in recent years” and is taking added measures to ensure the protection of vulnerable migrant workers. Mr Little also says that trade unions are an especially helpful avenue for protecting said workers and suggests that troubled migrant workers turn to them for help too.