Hundreds Paid Less Than The Minimum Wage

Following on from our Migrant Tale: Civil Engineer now cleaning ovens in New Zealand we thought this would be a good time to explore further the exploitation of migrant workers in New Zealand.

It seems that the National Distribution union has had concerns about this issue for some time and that some degree of fault may lay with the Department of Labour for not doing enough to police employment practices.

Hundreds of immigrants and some Kiwis are getting a raw deal from New Zealand employers and are being paid less than the minimum wage. According to the National Distribution union

Thirteen dollars an hour may be too little for New Zealand’s unions but there are some workers in our community who struggle to make even that.

According to National Distribution Union (NDU) secretary Robert Reid there are hundreds of vulnerable workers in New Zealand who are being left with little option other to work for less than minimum wage.

Mr Reid says those affected are mainly migrant workers who are too scared to complain about their situation.

The story was taken-up by 3 News earlier this year, Mr Reid said that some immigrants are being failed by a lack of policing of labour laws

“Just today I received a call from a migrant worker in the Auckland suburb of Northcote who stated that it was very difficult to find a job that was even paying the minimum wage,” he says.

This migrant from an Asian country contacted small shops and restaurants in Auckland which only offered between $7 and $10 per hour, says Mr Reid.

He says this is not uncommon, especially in Auckland.

“With this example they are just blatantly not paying minimum wage. “It is certainly an increasing problem, mainly for migrant workers who are very vulnerable and being exploited.”

He says the increase in cases is mainly due to the Department of Labour doing little to police it.

“The Department of Labour just doesn’t have enough inspectors left. It is now ultimately down to the Unions to police this and the unions only cover 20 percent of the work force.”

He went on to tell 3 News that many are afraid to speak out and that Asian and African workers are the most exploited

many who do not want to speak out are in fear of being sent home and that includes documented workers, who work here legally but are not permanent residents.

Overseas students are just one example of documented workers who are being exploited. Students can work up to 20 hours per week on their study visa.

“It seems to be lesser those from Europe and certainly more Asians and Africans who are being exploited,” says Mr Reid.

He says some of the migrant workers are undocumented but this is not an excuse to exploit them.

“If they are here they should not be exploited.”

Mr Reid says there is also a problem with large companies paying under minimum wage and using different allowances and bonuses to make up the difference.

Some major New Zealand firms add shift and attendance bonuses to hourly rates below the minimum wage. They say that the Department of Labour has condoned this practice. The NDU believes the practice could be unlawful.” read the full report here

We’re always interested to hear about how migrants are treated in New Zealand, if you have a tale you’d like to tell please leave it in our comments section.

You may also be interested in: Skilled migrants asked to tell their NZ work stories

17 thoughts on “Hundreds Paid Less Than The Minimum Wage

  1. Does NZ really need skilled migrants? Maybe yes. And why? Maybe because of the exodus of Kiwis to Oz. And why is that so? That’s for you to find out. :-))

  2. It is very important that migrant workers air their experiences, weather good or bad, in the spirit of fairness & justice.

  3. Did not mean to offend that poster. I do not know anyone named Andrea, sorry. She/he/it must be mistaking me for someone else.

    My point is that the incidents and personalities spotlighted on this site are representative of some truth about NZ that migrants should be aware of. Not every single Kiwi supports Paul Henry of course. No. But if you dislike Paul’s views, “too many for comfort” support him if that person is considering migrating. That is the only point I am making. The amount of support I have observed for Paul Henry is fairly substantial. If he is not 100% supported by all Kiwis, then maybe that poster would consider a statement of observation of general support for PH invalid. The reasoning is specious. If 80% of Kiwis support him, then most Kiwis support him.

    Thank you for curbing the worst of the trollery on your site, moderator. If that person wants to go troll an expat site where members complain about New Zealand being overhyped and she/he/it wants to get all personal about it, she/he/it can go to one of the other sites where they permit people to run rampant.

  4. Thanks Ducky, it’s always interesting to see how a certain type of personality is so well liked and supported in New Zealand. He’ll keep his head down until the international offence he caused has blown over and will back on air eventually.

    The “Voice of reason” invariably backs a loser (Henry, Cameron ‘finish my set’ Leslie) and tries to lays the blame anywhere but where it really belongs.

  5. I don’t personally like Paul Henry & find him offensive, however there are those in NZ & overseas that do find his ‘humour’ to be their thing for sure. What exactly is your point? We aren’t a country of 14000 people nor 42000.

    I don’t mind if you have an opinion about NZ that is negative.

    (edited to remove personal attack)

  6. Paul Henry is more than just a cheap and sensationalistic news outlet that no one respects. He is a well-loved classic. He vocalises “things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud” . Paul Henry declares people “un-Kiwi”.
    He is “the man”.
    “Henry has reasonable opinions (that word “reasonable” again!) and should not be sacked thanks to green fags that are just trying to seek media attention. He is the only TV presenter that often has realistic points of view, rather than ‘politically correct’.”

    Get Paul Henry on 7 days
    14,416 people like this.

    What Kiwi wouldn’t laugh at the name Dikshit!! (Support Paul Henry)
    42,636 people like this.

    He is a mascot and mouthpiece for the Kiwi in the street. It’s tragic that ego-pricked trolls feel offended enough by the truth to come here and pretend to be a voice of “reason”. Try the voice of arseholery.

  7. What does Paul Henry have to do with anything? Fox News is a leading ‘news’ channel in the US – should we judge the whole of the US for that? Please at least make intelligent and valid observations about New Zealand rather than any old bit of sensationalist tripe just to make NZ look bad. It’s tragic that you have this agenda really.

  8. They engage in widespread “empathy blocking” (this is the psych term for it). This endemic practice undermines their ability to relate very early in life, leading to the relational aggression that P Ray refers to so frequently. I imagine that P Ray comes from a more empathic and socioemotionally less challenged culture, so it must have been quite a shock.

  9. The need for skilled migrants continues

    “Despite the worldwide and domestic economic downturn and the unemployment which will inevitably result, the government is acutely aware of the continued need to attract skilled migrants to New Zealand. In recent years, this country has suffered from a shortage of skilled workers and despite the current economic downturn this problem has not been reversed. We need to look to the future – New Zealand business will recover and we need to keep the flow of skilled migrants moving.”

    – Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Immigration

  10. “(New Zealand) prides itself as an upholder of strong human rights”. – Lincoln Tan.

    (and google New Zealand prides itself on human rights, no quotation marks – many returns, part of their brand image).

    If you are going to preach about how enlightened you are compared to more evil countries, then you had,better not get caught flogging the help behind the shed, mate. Places like America know better than to strut superior morality like that because they know they can’t walk the talk. New Zealand is still lying about it, though, because their national emotional age is about 5. We’re trying to raise your age on here by showing you that we know you steal bikkies from the jar, so just get off the morality high horse.

  11. We’re always interested to hear about how migrants are treated in New Zealand.

    If anyone has a tale they’d like to tell, or would like to respond to Andrea/HS, please leave a message in our comments section.

  12. Thank you for clarifying that for us ‘Andrea‘, ‘Hypocrites suck’or whatever other name you’d like to be known by.

    Your comments, along with your absolution of responsibility by dismissing Paul Henry’s ‘gaffes’ by saying he wasn’t a Kiwi, make it crystal clear what your mindset is and where you sit on the scale of solution to problem.

  13. I know of Iranian people who have been given less than minimum wage, however this exploitation is from their own people often. One guy said he was paid about 3 or 4 dollars years ago (1997 or 1998, so going back a bit) because he couldn’t speak english & therefore couldn’t gain employment elsewhere. He said that when his boss, who was Turkish, didn’t have a good night he would not even pay him & there was nothing he could do.

    Personally, I am a Kiwi & I worked a day for a Chinese woman & she kept saying she would pay me & never did. So when you say conditions are bad in New Zealand perhaps you should think of who exactly is guilty of this treatment of Kiwis & immigrants. It also happens elsewhere – in the US it is common knowledge that Mexicans & other people work illegally & are extremely underpaid. Is this an issue of race or nationality or is it the darker side of human nature? On a larger scale countries have been exploited for years & have little to show for it. It still goes on to this day with modern day slaves working all over the world thanks to human trafficking. Where do companies get their cocoa from? Where do many prostitutes come from? We are exploiting these people everyday when we eat chocolate or drink coffee. Look at the bigger picture & maybe then you will have the answer to the smaller one. Exploitation occurs because it benefits someone, sometimes that someone is us. Do you pay extra for fair trade chocolate, coffee, cocoa, sugar, bananas? Are your clothes purchased from ethical manufacturers? Do you use a cellphone or laptop that is not free from conflict minerals? Do you have diamonds, or have you ever bought them? The issue of exploitation runs a lot deeper than one or two or even one hundred people. It is about our mindsets & if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

    • People need to take a careful look when they say “other people are doing the exploitation, not us”. And many of the people being exploited are LEGAL workers, who simply do not have the financial means or time to spare going after money owed to them either by unscrupulous employers or friends-turned-crooks.

      You will find for example that some of the vendors at the street fairs are educated people driven to any means to get money as all their previous attempts to be gainfully employed have failed. And that those who own the stalls and pay them are bona-fide New Zealanders. Of course, since this is all casual labour and the owners want a maximal return on their sales, people attending at the stalls are paid very little.

      I can believe Chanon Jitkomut being paid under half the minimum wage per hour – for a time I worked at those stalls, until I was offered a student-contact job in a university. The person in charge of the stall (an European Kiwi, I might add, studying law and fully aware of the requirements to pay someone the minimum wage), would have it no other way. Migrants get stuck in the position of being under-employed, creating the impression that their skills do not meet market standards, and then also have to compete against both “jobs for Kiwis” and “you have no NZ experience in your field”.

      Regarding university student-contact positions, it’s unfortunate that many of those jobs are now being filled by people who don’t care about student welfare (student assistants missing lectures and exams or unprepared in stamina for the challenges, are common).
      Students with disabilities face a tough road ahead, what with the toxic “tall-poppy” and “she’ll be right mate” attitudes.

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