7 October 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
Government needs to send clear message about migrant work abuse
The abuse of migrant workers risks becoming a scandal of similar magnitude to the exploitation of foreign fishing crew
if the government fails to step up its enforcement and prosecution of employers who breach our labour and minimum wage
laws, Labour's spokesperson for Labour Issues and Immigration, Darien Fenton, says.
"Revelations that 65 businesses are being investigated for breaches related to the employment of foreign students is
just the latest chapter in a whole book of reported migrant worker abuse this year.
"The government has, until very recently, been prepared to sit back and wait for the complaints to come in, rather than
taking a proactive approach of inspections and enforcement.
"Because there is no collating of reported minimum wage or other labour law breaches of workers here on work or student
visas, there is no way of knowing how widespread the problem is.
"We do know however that, over the last three years, only six employers have been prosecuted by the Department of Labour
for breaches of minimum wage laws - resulting in median fines of between $2,500 and $5,000.
“This won't do. In the next couple of years, we will be bringing in 15,000 migrants for the Christchurch rebuild. There
has to be an assurance from the Government that this will not become another opportunity for bad employers to exploit
“It can demonstrate it is serious about clamping down on this sort of illegal behaviour by sending a clear message that
employers abusing New Zealand labour laws will face the maximum penalties.
“The issue is not only about the standards we expect for all workers in New Zealand, but also our international
reputation as a place to study and work in,” said Darien Fenton.