Too often we are hearing about non-New Zealanders finding only after being subject to mistreatment that they have employment rights and that there are penalties for the employer if they fail to abide. The most common complaint is underpayment of wages, but other issues such as hours worked and being allowed to take statutory holidays are also common.
The Opposition say that the Government is not taking the issue seriously. More over it is deliberately allowing large numbers of foreign students into the country and then ignoring the deliberate underpayment of them, when they try to find work to sustain themselves here. It is failing to properly check the validity of their visas and a number of scammers are at work knowing there are loopholes which are not being closed, according to New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.
Many of the people being short changed are from India and and were unaware of their rights before arriving. Their visa agent failed to inform them of their rights and responsibilities, and in some cases may have taken the fee and bolted. And – for those who are lucky enough to get here – when they arrived in New Zealand and found work, their employer failed to do due diligence and ensure their new employee/s know how they should be treated. Others are from China and because of corrupted practices in their country, expectations about what to expect in New Zealand with regards to employment law are lower. None of them are likely to be aware that there are methods of redress that can be taken.
Prime Minister John Key is currently in India negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. Among the issues he should have raised are the scammers at work who issue fraudulent visas. Mr Key should have also told his Indian counter part Narendra Modi that New Zealand will clamp down on the issuing of fraudulent visas. In New Zealand he should be announcing a plan to to require all parties issuing visas to be registered with Immigration New Zealand and have a certificate of compliance that gets renewed annually. New Zealand is better than what I have described above. New Zealanders do not treat people like that – we should know and act better.