Media Release: FIRST Union
Friday August 17, 2012
New migrant workers network to combat exploitative practises
The launch of a new network to help migrant workers know their rights is very timely, following a TVNZ investigation
this week of exploitative practises by employers of migrant workers.
FIRST Union will launch UNEMIG
: Union Network of Migrants at 1.30 pm on Sunday 19 August at the NZ Diversity Action Programme held at the Aotea
“Migrant workers are frequently victims of under legal minimum wage pay, abuse, discrimination, bullying and harassment
in the workplace,” said Robert Reid, FIRST Union General Secretary.
“Unions exist to protect and advance the collective interests of workers, and it is our duty to make sure that migrant
workers’ rights are protected,” Robert Reid said.
Dennis Maga, FIRST Union UNEMIG coordinator, said the network is assisting migrant workers with employment and
immigration matters, holding education events and supporting migrant workers to network with others.
“The TVNZ feature
exposed the complete lack of enforcement of migrant workers rights, because there is no government agency actively
investigating conditions for migrant workers,” said Dennis Maga, formerly a union official in the Philippines.
“Migrant workers don’t complain about their employers for fear of losing their job and working visa. They don’t want to
be deported, so aren’t able to speak out. They mostly only react to their exploitation once dismissed – and it is very
expensive for them to get legal support.”
“By forming UNEMIG, there is now a body that can investigate exploitative practises and support migrant workers to
access the decent work and conditions they are entitled to,” Dennis Maga said.
Putting Workers First
FIRST Union is New Zealand's second-largest private sector trade union.
Formed in 2011 after the merger between the National Distribution Union and Finsec, FIRST Union represents 27,000
workers in the Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood), Retail, Stores, Transport and Logistics sectors.
FIRST Union is also affiliated to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and runs several networks including the Union
Network of Migrants, the Runanga, Fono and Womens' Committee. In 2015 FIRST Union launched Samoa First Union, Samoa's
only private sector union.
Join FIRST Union today for higher pay, better conditions and more say at work.