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Changes to migrant labour system for employers welcomed

Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff today welcomed the opening of a consultation process on changes for employers wanting to hire people on migrant work visas.

“We have seen increasingly visible and shocking exploitation of people who have come to New Zealand to work under migrant visas by unscrupulous employers in recent years. Changes to the application system for employers are long overdue,” Mr Wagstaff said. “These proposals would help ensure safe and welcoming workplaces for all the people we bring in from overseas to fill skill and labour shortages.”

“It’s important for our regional communities and employers, and to future-proof against skills shortages that we approve employer applications for migrant labour. However, we can better match this to good jobs in industries where specialist skills are needed.”

“Employers need to play their part to upskill and train working people in New Zealand to fill vacancies, and make a genuine effort to find and appropriately pay local working people before turning overseas. It has been too easy for employers to get around this in the past. Too loose settings to employ migrant workers are bad for both the local workforce and people we welcome in to New Zealand, who are so often vulnerable and looking for a better life.”

“Unions will be engaging with the Government in this consultation process to explore the detail of the proposed changes, and how working people and their unions can best be involved. For example, sector agreements have the potential to raise standards for training, recruitment, and employment in industries that are experiencing labour and skills shortages. To be successful, sector agreements must be negotiated in good faith with working people and their unions. We look forward to seeing the proposed changes progressed in the new year.”