It is really great to hear David Shearer today speaking up for a bigger effort to put Kiwis at the front of the queue when it comes to jobs and also creating opportunities for more of our young New Zealanders to get into apprenticeships.
You can check out the speech here.
I’ve been talking about the issue of cheap migrant labour for a while now. It’s not the fault of migrants. Many of them come here expecting a lot better than they end up with and we’ve been playing fast and loose with migrants to keep wages low in crucial industries.
There’s been plenty of media coverage about the foreign charter fishing vessels and the atrocious working conditions for migrants. That was a scandal that hit the international headlines, but there’s on land stories as well.
Earlier this year the Equal Opportunities Commissioner criticised the aged care industry for its low pay. The average pay for a residential rest home worker is $14.50, despite this job requiring considerable skill and experience, not to mention dedication.
The fast growing skill shortage is being met by bringing in migrant workers rather than offering higher wages or training opportunities to attract more New Zealanders into care. The EEO Commission found that migrant workers are often highly skilled with suitable nursing qualifications, but find themselves working for lower wages, working overtime and irregular hours with no extra compensation.
I’m also hearing similar stories in our agriculture industry with farm workers being hired from overseas, paid very little and given no support.
65 employers in Horticulture, Hospitality and Auckland CBD businesses are currently under investigation for exploiting migrants after 4 PTEs were found to be fronts for providing cheap labour.
Cheap migrant labour is now becoming a substitute for providing decent work, training and fair pay in some industries. The migrant workers miss out, but so do New Zealanders who want work.
David Shearer has announced Labour will institute a more rigorous process of giving approval to employers to bring in migrants.
We want to ensure employers make the effort to train New Zealanders, and don’t see migrant workers as an cheap alternative to paying fair wages and conditions to all workers in this country – whether they are born here or other countries.