Stopping migrant worker exploitation – new research underway

  • Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
Immigration Workplace Relations and Safety

The Government’s efforts to stamp out the exploitation of migrant workers will be guided by wide-ranging research beginning today, says Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“The Government is determined to build a fair and inclusive modern economy fit for the 21st century, and nowhere in that vision is a place for the exploitation of migrant workers.

"While migrants bring the skills we need to grow our economy, many migrant workers, especially those on temporary and student visas, are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

“Migrant exploitation takes many forms, including workers not getting paid properly, working excessive hours or in unsafe conditions. Crucially, far too many migrant workers do not feel empowered to speak up or seek help when they are being subjected to unfair conditions.

“To help develop ways to stop this exploitation, I’ve directed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to undertake in-depth research on temporary migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand.

“Auckland UniServices will work with MBIE on this important work. Conducting research through a third party provides an independent and confidential space to hear from migrant and international student groups, unions and businesses.

“The Government will engage with representatives of migrants, businesses, workers, academics and international students to provide independent perspectives and to test ideas.

“This is a thorough review, and will take time. I expect to make decisions in 2019. In the meantime, MBIE will continue to take action against those who exploit migrants.

“Initiatives underway include the increase in the numbers of Labour Inspectors through Budget 2018 and recently-announced changes to post-study work rights that will help reduce the risk of international student exploitation,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

Iain Lees-Galloway made the announcement while speaking to today’s Biennial Conference for First Union, which also announced a Work Passport for Migrant Workers guide.

Anyone who believes that are being exploited in the workplace should contact MBIE’s Immigration New Zealand on 0508 558 855 or the Labour Inspectorate on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment. People can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously.

Read the Cabinet paper on the MBIE website: