New Zealand – More concerns; study claims worker exploitation rampant

Filed under: News |

By (Craig Johnson)

A new report released by the University of Auckland Business School suggests exploitation of migrant and New Zealand-born workers is widespread.

The research is the second stage of a two-stage report involving 105 semi-structured interviews with workers – predominantly temporary migrant workers – from a range of industries. It identified cases of worker exploitation in several industry sectors and predominantly labour-intensive industries.

The study found some people in New Zealand are working 80 to 90 hour weeks for $500, being paid for half the hours they work and paying their own salary to “buy” permanent residency. It suggests exploitation of migrant and New Zealand-born workers is widespread across many key industries, including horticulture, hospitality and construction.

“These industries form the lifeblood of New Zealand’s economy,” says researcher Dr Christina Stringer from the University of Auckland Business School. “As well as being a serious human rights issue, findings of migrant worker exploitation puts New Zealand’s reputation at risk.”

Stringer interviewed 105 people over two years, mostly workers along with members of advocate groups. Most of the workers were working on a temporary migrant work visa, but some were New Zealand-born. The majority were men aged in their 20s to 40s.

Patterns of exploitation varied from industry to industry, but the most common forms of exploitation reported were:

Excessive working hours sometimes without breaks – up to 18-hour shifts, and 80-90 hour weeks

No pay or severe under-payment with some temporary migrants being paid for only half of the hours worked, or earning as little as $4-$5 an hour

No holiday pay

No employment contracts

Taxes deducted but not paid to the Inland Revenue

Degrading treatment: being sworn at or insulted, denied bathroom breaks, verbal or physical abuse and threatened abuse, restriction of movement

Cash-for-residency schemes, in which workers paid cash to their employers, which was returned to them as their “wage” – viewed as “normal” in some circles

Recently, a staffing firm came under fire over workplace conditions.

Source:: Staffing Industry Analysts Daily Newsfeed


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