More modern day slavery has been uncovered in New Zealand, with the revelation that foreign welders are being paid $3 an hour and it’s legal.
Newshub can reveal four Indonesian welders working at a Napier sawmill have been getting paid little more than $3 an hour. It’s not illegal; in fact, our current visa rules allow it.
The welders have been putting in the hard yards – working at Napier Pine, where they sleep on-site in a converted shipping container. “We deserve to be treated exactly like the Kiwi worker. We are hard workers,” Santoso, one of the welders, says…
Santoso’s wages works out a just over $3 an hour.
The men’s passports were taken off them on arrival, and they say they’ve never seen an employment contract. The current immigration rules mean they don’t need one. “During this time, we never, ever have a contract or agreement,” Santoso says.
Another person has been working under similar arrangements since 2005, often working from 8am until 3 am the following day
The men came here on what’s called a “specific purpose” work visa to install specialised machinery. It’s normally a short-term visa. But they’ve been here nine months and Newshub has video of the men hammering in foundations and even driving forklifts around the site.
This excellent piece of investigative journalism has prompted Immigration New Zealand to review its procedure for issuing the Specific Purpose Visa, but because the men were supposed to install special equipment they didn’t need to be paid the minimum wage because they’re employed by an offshore employer, not a New Zealander.
According to the assistant general manager for Visa Services: Geoff Scott that means Immigration don’t have any influence over employment conditions or wages.
Napier Pine managing director Mr Mukti also said the underpayment was not his company’s responsibility. “We just give them some pocket money here if they want to buy something. But the company that sends them is the one that pays them.”
So Napier Pine technically hasn’t done anything wrong in terms of underpayment, but researcher Dr Glenn Simmons, who’s met the men, says he’s concerned their passports were taken. “Normally they’re retained simply as a control mechanism because individuals won’t move far from where their pass books are, even if they don’t possess them,” he says… you can read the full story here
So there you have it, modern day slavery exists in New Zealand and it’s all above board and legal.
Immigration New Zealand’s web site says this about the Specific Purpose Work Visa
This visa is for people who need to come to New Zealand for a specific purpose or event. To apply you’ll need to have skills related to your specific purpose or event and be able to define the time you’ll need to complete your specific purpose or event. Examples of people who may be able to apply include business people on secondments, sports players, professional coaches, specialist installers or services, and Philippines nurses seeking occupational registration.
Which means any of these occupations could have people working in similar conditions to the gentlemen above. Is anyone looking at the working conditions of Filipino nurses?
Turning a blind eye to slave labour
The INZ website says “installers and services (sic) of specialised machinery or equipment” are only permitted to stay in New Zealand for 3 months.
One has to ask why INZ isn’t policing its visa holders more closely, because not chasing up over-stayers, or having regard to wage payments, makes it look like the government is turning a blind eye to slave labour.
Another question should be how many of these visas are issued every year and for what occupations?
You may also be interested in
Migrant Exploitation: Modern Day Slavery Exposed. “Nobody’s gonna find your dead body in New Zealand”
New Zealand criticised for slavery, sex trafficking
4 thoughts on “More Modern Day Slavery Uncovered in New Zealand”
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana. A blast from the past:
Slavery at sea exposed
Last updated 05:00 03/04/2011
Foreign charter vessels – 21 in the last year – are hired by New Zealand companies to catch quota allocated to Maori under Treaty of Waitangi settlements. Many iwi granted quota under the Sealords Deal, cannot afford to buy boats, so they contract out their quota.
That catch, worth $300 million a year, is marketed as “Produce of New Zealand”.
The boats compete with companies such as Nelson’s Talley’s Fisheries. Chief executive Peter Talley said the government knew what was happening but had responded only by setting basic standards for onboard observers.
“They do not care about the Filipinos, Indonesians and Ukrainians on the vessels.”
Government papers show high-level awareness. One official reported that crewmen had told him they had never worked in such terrible conditions. “If these tales are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them, the conditions amount to little more than ‘sweatshop’ ones,” he warned.
Skippers confiscate passports so crews can’t flee despite violence. “Some crew members suggest they have been hit with pieces of wood, and even on the hands with a hammer,” one paper said of crew from a ship whose name was censored.
Crew members are hit with fists and even with fish. “If anyone stands against the abuse, it has been known for them to be taken to a cabin and beaten. Individuals are reluctant to draw attention to themselves.”
On one boat a crewman with tuberculosis got no help until fishing was completed. When he was finally put ashore, he was hospitalised for three weeks. Another crewman suffered appendicitis and received no help.
“Crews work when the fish are running, and are sometimes forced to work two or three days without a break. If fish are not running, they are sometimes not provided with an evening meal.”
On one boat, three men working in the freezer were injured. “One suffered frostbite from working in the freezer, bad enough to require hospital treatment. When he returned to the vessel he was made to remove his dressings and get on with work.”
Working conditions came into focus after last August’s sinking of the 38-year-old Oyang 70, costing six lives, and four months later when the 31-year-old No.1 Insung, operating out of Bluff, sank in the Ross Sea with the loss of 22 lives.
Sources say the families of the crew lost on Oyang were mostly robbed of their insurance money by agents in Indonesia, while the Vietnamese on Insung earned as little as $238 a month, with deductions for agents, food and cigarettes from that.
P.S. I’ve seen NZ “wanted” posters – for crewmen who run away from such ships – before.
Just to explain my stance on having no sympathy for foriegn workers being abused in N.Z .
This is no longer a New thing ,this abuse and deception has been going on for years ,anyone who comes here and acts surprised that they are abused can only blame themselves ,this country has an established reputation for human rights and workers rights abuses,the trade unions have been destroyed ,a worker outside govt office is now just a slave and will be treated as such,there are very few places to lodge a complaint and those which exist really are more likely to threaten a person than help them or pursue a claim on their behalf.,get over it ,nobody here cares about N.Z workers least of all foriegn workers ,health and safety is all about protecting the corrupt Acc system ,nobody can be sued ,least of all a corporation ,it’s insanity.
The man states that he should be treated exactly the same as a Kiwi worker ,Sadly he is being treated that way,while thousands of kiwi workers can’t find work or don’t even bother leaving their houses for slave wages the N.Z government imports slaves ( suckers ) from other countries .Dont blame N.Z citizens ,blame the N.Z government and as far as the abused foriegn workers go ,I have zero sympathy for them ,they are basically scab workers coming here without contracts and getting pretty much what they deserve for not doing their homework .Enjoy you might get to see a Hobbit.
Sounds exactly like something that happens frequently in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. It definitely does sound like a second world country when you read about these things.
If NZ politicians weren’t backed by banksters and their corporate slave masters who protect them… I would love to see an international court set up to allow a team of migrants who have been screwed over to sue the NZ govt for misrepresenting their country and advertising it falsely as a promised utopia to millions of people around the world.
Unfortunately, that will probably never happen, but I hope this blog as well as all the other expat blogs/forums expose the truth enough about this country so nobody else is misled into coming here.
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