Migrant worker debate missing the point

Published: Thu 19 Jun 2008 10:36 AM
Migrant worker debate missing the point
The debate currently taking place around the employment of migrant workers is missing the point says Neville Donaldson, Assistant National Secretary of the Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota (SFWU).
Employers are claiming that there are not enough New Zealand workers to cover the work currently available.
These comments are misleading says Donaldson,
"A more accurate description is that there are not enough New Zealand workers prepared to work for minimum wage or close to it." He says.
History would show that in time of labour market shortages workers and their unions make significant progress in improving wages and achieving service related condition improvements such as service payments and additional holidays for long service.
This has not been the case in the last several years due to many factors, one of which has been the ability of employers to argue that there is a labour shortage and a need for migrant workers to be employed to cover the shortage.
In turn has meant New Zealand workers wages have only just kept level with the rate of inflation and migrant worker are offered work on wages and conditions that are at the lowest level in the industry concerned.
Its not just New Zealand workers that deserve better, migrant workers do as well.
This is not an anti-migrant worker debate it is a debate around fairness in the workplace and valuing workers as a whole says Neville Donaldson.

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