There has been a call to adjust the way New Zealand distributes and categorises Visa’s in an effort to limit the exploitation of migrant workers across the country. This has become a topical issue for Kiwi’s as more companies are being called out for mistreatment and underpayment. The solution, according to a survey conducted by the Union Network of Migrants and the Indian Workers Association, is to allow all temporary work visa holders to become more open.
Currently, Employer Assisted visas force migrant workers to stay in one place of employment, and a new survey showed that over 5,000 applicants have applied for these visas to be made open in the last three months alone. By opening the visas, these workers are able to move between employers and therefore speak up about any mistreatment without fear of being cast out.
The rate of migrant worker abuse has been astronomical, with 650 out of the 1000 people surveyed by the two groups reported some form of exploitation and an inability to exercise their rights as they had been tethered to this employer.
Mandeep Bella, the coordinator for the recent survey, has spoken out in support of the call for open visas. “We consider attaching the visa to a particular employer and location of work as bonded labour. Many migrants feel scared to come forward because our immigration settings have given employers more power over migrant workers. Migrants run the risk of losing their employment and visa to live and work in this country if they try to exercise their rights or speak out about the exploitation they are experiencing. Such employers also often commit immigration and tax fraud as well. These rogue employers undermine good employers and drive down wages and conditions of local workers as well. Nobody wants this happening in Aotearoa.”