Migrant worker paid $8 an hour; others not paid at all

Stories of migrant workers being exploited, with some paid as little as $8 an hour, have been revealed in a new report from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.

Report author Cathy Bi said the story that struck her the most was of a girl who worked a shift at a restaurant, but was not paid because her employer told her it was only a trial.

The girl stood up to her employer and won, Bi said.

“What she communicated to me, is that this isn’t common for her friends to stand up to the employer, but it is common for employers to say ‘Oh we don’t pay for this period’ or ‘We don’t give contracts'”.

The report was released at a Thursday evening seminar in Wellington: Unfair treatment of migrant workers – what can we do?

It has been produced to help the Church community to understand the experiences of migrant workers.

Many people who move to New Zealand to work have positive experiences their workplaces.

But the study reveals that some migrants working in Wellington experience unfair treatment and unreasonable working conditions.

It is hoped that the report will put a spotlight on barriers that prevent people from asking for help.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand director Julianne Hickey says, “Holding employers accountable to good employment practice is a responsibility that sits with everyone.”

The study says migrants can be assisted through clarifying basic employment rights, referring them to accessible legal experts, and helping them to look for alternative work.

“It cannot be up to migrant workers alone to report cases of poor employment practice, and our research shows that having a good support person in the community can bridge several of the gaps and vulnerabilities that migrant workers face,” Hickey said.

The findings are based on a small-scale qualitative research project about migrant worker experiences that was undertaken by the social justice agency in the Wellington Catholic Archdiocese.

Caritas spoke to 14 people, including migrant workers, unions and lawyers, between April and June this year.


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