Two events, one was a speech while the other was a public interaction, but the message from the Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was essentially the same.
First was the annual conference of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment held in Auckland on August 17, and the other was a public meeting organised by Labour MP from New Lynn Deborah Russell on August 21. Here’s what he said on several immigration issues.
A report released on August 26, which was commissioned by E tū, and was funded by the Industrial Relations Fund, has revealed the experiences of mostly Filipino construction workers in Christchurch and Auckland in 2017 and 2018. A small number of employers from around New Zealand was also interviewed. Along with low pay, and poor housing emerging as critical issues, the report, by researcher and lawyer, Catriona MacLennan, also reveals wide-spread exploitation of migrants by immigration companies and so-called pastoral care companies.
A man who liquidated his company after being penalised nearly $430,000 for exploiting workers, has been made personally liable for the nearly $120,000 that’s still outstanding. The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ‘joined’ Jujhar Singh to his previous company Binde Enterprises Ltd, following a Labour Inspectorate investigation which uncovered nearly $210,000 in wages owed to 75 migrants working on a vegetable farm in the Bombay Hills.
“This sends a clear message to employers that if minimum employment standards are breached and workers are exploited, closing down the business will not get its owners or directors off the hook,” noted Kevin Finnegan, Labour Inspector Horticulture lead. Singh has three months to pay the full outstanding amount.
Last week, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced major changes to post-study work rights, which he claimed will help ensure international students coming to New Zealand gain in-demand skills for the country’s economic growth, incentivise study in the regions and help reduce the risk of student exploitation; The New Zealand Education Strategy 2018-2030 was launched at the New Zealand International Education Conference on August 9. It sets out three goals and the key actions needed for agencies to achieve them, as well as measures and indicators of success; University of Canterbury (UC) student numbers have received a further boost this year with a 22% increase in mid-year enrolments compared to last year.
The immigration system of New Zealand, with all its rules and regulations, needs to be fair and consistent. Right now, it is too much dependent on the officials, who use their discretion while applying these norms. This was the most common complaint that Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway faced on July 18, when he fronted up to a Q and A session with ethnic communities in Christchurch. The occasion was the launch of Multicultural Labour Canterbury (MLC), which was also attended by the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods, and Labour MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan.
Coming to New Zealand as a migrant is a very exciting new challenge, but also a very brave move as you step into a new country with its own unique culture. You bring with you your own cultural nuances, values and language. The norms you have known all of your life need adjustment to assimilate into your new homeland, so change is inevitable, otherwise why have you come to this country?
Just because you have stepped into New Zealand, you are entering a new education college without exams. Unfortunately, until recently insufficient assistance has been available for migrants to understand the changes you need to make so that you can feel at home and welcomed.