We welcome legislation to name and shame exploiters

Our Leader from Indian Newslink Digital Edition October 1, 2022

Venkat Raman

(File Photo from Stuff)

Auckland, October 1, 2022

There has always been a complaint that New Zealand does not demonstrate the political and social will to punish rogue employers who exploit migrant workers, international students and other vulnerable people.

Hopefully, that complaint is about to be redressed.

The new law, new initiatives

In introducing the ‘Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill’ to Parliament last week, the government has signalled to erring employees to correct themselves or face stringent action. Among other things, the new law will create a Public Register of individuals and businesses that are found guilty of migrant exploitation, launch a new community-led pilot to educate migrant workers and employers about employment rights and implement reporting tools successfully bring exploitation out of the shadows. In addition, protective visas will safeguard workers reporting exploitation.

The number of cases involving rogue employers and immigration consultants who defraud the gullible public has been on the increase but the trend can be reversed with greater vigilance and discretion, which the proposed legislation attempts to do. Along with exploitation, migrant workers also suffer, often in silence, bullying and harassment.

Vulnerable PIO

People of Indian Origin (PIO) are the most common victims since lack of experience, the urge to seek permanent residence status and facilitating the migration of members of the immediate family are among the factors that prompt them to rush to the nearest immigration consultant or accept any employment offer. In many cases, such people are quickly relieved of their hard-earned money and left in the lurch.

Potential immigrants who arrive here on visit visas or those entering the country on other types of status (refugees for instance) look up the yellow pages of the phone book and choose a consultant at random and entrust the job of processing their applications.

In other cases, those with permanent residence status are keen to bring their family members and seek the advice of such consultants.

That is when the trouble starts.

While well-established and reputed consultants not only offer professional and genuine advice but also account for a high success rate in terms of enabling applicants to achieve their objective of migrating to New Zealand.

Deregulation has led to a large number of consultants offering their services in New Zealand. People should be careful in selecting the firm or individual to deal with and not respond blindly to advertisements. The Licensing regime which is in force has somewhat disciplined the consultancy business.

Time to discipline employers

It is now time to discipline some employers as well.

The Indian government has addressed the problem of rogue employers and immigration consultants and immigration fraud including marriage scams. But people should come forward without fear and lodge their complaints with the Ministry and appropriate action will be initiated.

According to the Economist, the International Labour Organisation estimates that the Asia-Pacific region hosted in 2013 to 25.8 million migrant workers.

“They have done wonders for both their home and destination countries. Rapidly ageing societies such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are short of workers. Younger, poorer places such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines need the money their emigrants send home. So, Cambodians work on South Korean farms; young Chinese men work in Tokyo’s convenience stores and South Asians toil on Singapore’s building sites. The World Bank estimates that of the ten countries that receive the most in remittances from overseas workers, five are in Asia. In the Philippines, remittances are equal to 10% of GDP.

The economic case for migration is equally compelling. Just as labour mobility is desirable within national borders, so too across them. Allowing people to move from poorer countries to richer ones that have more capital, superior technologies and better institutions boost their productivity and that of the global economy.

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