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Action urged over appalling living conditions and treatment of RSE workers

Revelations that RSE workers in Blenheim are being exploited by having to live in cold, damp homes and being threatened against joining unions, must prompt urgent action from the Government, the Council of Trade Unions demanded today.

“We are simply appalled at reports that Pacific workers have been forced to live in crowded, unhealthy homes in the middle of winter and face other restrictions which amount to a breach of human rights,” said Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff.

The revelations follow an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo as reported in Stuff. The workers are in New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme.

“Any abuse of workers employed under the RSE scheme is completely unacceptable and reflects badly on New Zealand’s reputation as a place to work. 

“The CTU has asked the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood to urgently progress the RSE review in consultation with the CTU, industry unions and employers to determine the future of the scheme and what changes need to be made to end exploitative practices. 

“We need to do more to ensure workers who come to our country in good faith to support their families are treated fairly,” said Richard Wagstaff.