Migrant exploitation 'must be avoided'

noodlesQueen City Law strongly urge all migrants starting businesses in New Zealand to get familiar with the Employment laws as running a business in NZ is very different to running a business in the home country. Sometimes this can lead to a very unpleasant situation where abuse arises and eventually it becomes a very expensive mistake for the business owner. If you run a business in NZ and are unsure of how employment laws affect your business click here. If you want to find out a bit more about collective agreements click here.

The case of two Christchurch men who worked for almost no pay for five years is outrageous, and measures need to be taken to ensure even worse cases of migrant exploitation are avoided. A very interesting article made the news today and there was a good article written by Lauren Baker – for Radio New Zealand News

Listen to more on Morning Report ( 3 min 39 sec )

The brothers arrived in New Zealand to work at the Little Saigon Vietnamese restaurant, owned by a family member, in part to pay off a loan worth about $12,000.

They were working over 66 hours a week, were living in the owner’s garage, and were paid little – if nothing, over five years.

More on this story from Radio New Zealand

But they only asked for help when they were sacked for not washing tablecloths, last year.They had now been awarded almost $200,000 between them, in a mixture of back-pay and compensation.

Legal worker for the Auckland Latin American Community group Felipe Forero was stunned at the case.”That is outrageous.”It’s surprising it’s happened in New Zealand, but at the same time it’s an opportunity for New Zealand society to realise that labour exploitation is a phenomenon happening in the country right now.”He said migrant exploitation was a growing trend, and was worried that there could be even worse cases in the future.”If we don’t do stronger efforts in order to prevent this behaviour, we’re going to face more serious situations.”Mr Forero said one idea was to give migrants open work visas so they were not tied to one employer, and knew they had the option to move on without fear they would be deported.

Dennis Maga from the Union Network of Migrants said the message that people could come forward safely was failing to get through.

“Despite the efforts of the Government, Immigration, and even MBIE, it doesn’t actually come across to migrants that you will not be deported, you are safe to complain.

“There is always fear that we have to overcome.”

He said employers should face tougher punishments than fines, which could happen under potential changes to immigration laws.

“If ever the employers are actually living in New Zealand for less than ten years, then they should be penalised under that kind of condition, and they could be deported as well.”

Mr Maga said the amendments to the immigration act were currently going before Parliament, and he hoped to see them given approval either later this year or early in 2015.

Meanwhile the Little Saigon restaurant in Christchurch said it did not accept the decision, and wanted a new hearing. If you are concerned about your employment situation be sure to contact us to get clear legal advice. Contact our immigration team click here.

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