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Government must regulate to protect migrant workers on work visas from exploitation

migrant workers on work visas must be protected from exploitation

The NZ Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi is calling on Government to regulate greater protections for migrant workers including decoupling work visas from single employers, and for a comprehensive review into the policy settings of the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

This follows the release of the review into Immigration New Zealand’s administration of the AEWV scheme, which found that the scheme did not work as intended and that INZ could have done more to minimise the risk of abuse. It found that “MBIE do not appear to have a methodology or approach through which they regularly are able to calibrate the extent or nature of migrant exploitation”.

“The Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme has enabled systemic and widespread exploitation of migrant workers in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said CTU President Richard Wagstaff.

“We have seen case after case of migrant workers having their human rights violated and being used as a source of cheap labour for unscrupulous employers.

“Work visas shouldn’t enable the exploitation of migrant workers. Government must ensure that migrant workers are protected. Decoupling work visas from single employers, and allowing them to work with other accredited firms would be a great place to start.

“There needs to be a wider review of the AEWV scheme that looks at the policy settings and the extent of the exploitation of migrant workers in those industries using the scheme, rather than just the administration of the scheme.

“Migrant workers must be afforded with the same fundamental rights and conditions as all workers in New Zealand and should be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Wagstaff.