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Kudos to Central Indian body for leadership

New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) deserves credit for championing the cause of Indians, addressing a number of ills that confront the community. Less than three months after being elected into office, the new team has set in motion a process of dialogue with Ministers of the Crown and Government departments whose attention is central to seeking solutions to problems.

NZICA executives have had meetings with Judith Collins and Michael Woodhouse, respectively Ministers of Ethnic Affairs and Immigration, Indian High Commissioner Avanindra Kumar Pandey and a number of officials, especially from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), during which they not only conveyed the concerns of the Indian community but also offered to work with them to find enduring solutions.

Their meeting with Mr Woodhouse (read related story under Educationlink) on August 4 in Auckland could become a turning point in seeking an end to exploitation of migrant labour and students from India. As reported by us several times over the past 13 years, many employers of Indian origin are the ones who breach the Employment Law, Holidays Act and other statutes, overworking and underpaying migrant workers and students. This has now become a national issue, bringing discredit to the Indian community in general.

Visa Services Assistant General Manager Peter Elms understands that the laws in force free mobility of labour but recognises that disputes invariably end in favour of employees. However, as he mentioned, the emphasis is on educating foreign workers on their rights and responsibilities and disciplining rogue employers.

We can expect swift changes in the quality and impartial service provided by INZ in Delhi with the recent appointment of immigration and border security expert Simon Smith as Area Manager.

He has already raised the possibility of allowing greater mobility of migrant workers, cutting the umbilical chord with their sponsors. Even countries of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, which witness rampant abuse of foreign workers, have begun reforming labour laws.

Mr Smith has asked for feedback from the community, probably to recommend similar changes. We would pin our hope on NZICA, for this apex body, with its present officer-bearers appears to be determined to improve the lot of the community.

Their success would also benefit all people of Indian origin and people from other countries of the developing world.

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