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Cautionary words for migrants to New Zealand

/ 12:02 AM February 27, 2014

Our Filipino community group, Migrante Aotearoa, recently met with Filipinos at St. Ninians Presbyterian Church Lounge in Christchurch, New Zealand, to discuss work conditions, union issues and workers’ rights.

It’s distressing to hear that a growing number of Filipinos who came to New Zealand on student visas and took up a course in Business Management now find themselves in limbo. Many of them can’t find their dream jobs and their visas are about to expire.

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We hope that the 100 young Filipinos who wish to come to New Zealand through the new Working Holiday scheme won’t be victimized by those who give false promises of long-term jobs, easy life and New Zealand residency to the extent of disposing of all their assets in the Philippines. What most recruiters won’t tell Filipinos back home is that the living cost in New Zealand is very high, and the country has yet to recover from unemployment heights that the 2008 recession pushed it up to.

New migrants often fall prey to misinformation about working and living in New Zealand. Several reports made by  New Zealand government agencies such as the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment say new migrant workers are exploited at work, are charged exorbitant fees and end up unemployed. Some of the Filipino workers attracted to work in Christchurch have also fallen victim to “job scams” that promise them entry to New Zealand upon payment of exorbitant fees.

Since the February 2011 earthquake that brought destruction to Christchurch and the subsequent demolitions that further stripped the city of more buildings, construction companies have sought skilled workers from overseas. A significant number of workers—as many as 17,000 of the 35,000 workers needed for Christchurch to rebuild—are expected to come from overseas.

Migrante Aotearoa enjoins Filipinos already in New Zealand to join unions and actively support the Living Wage campaign in order to get paid enough to meet their daily needs in New Zealand. Currently, 90,500 New Zealanders are being paid the minimum wage of $13.75/hour.

Filipinos stand to benefit if the Living Wage of $18.40 is adopted nationwide. Filipinos and other migrants, along with Maori, Pacific peoples, youth and disabled people, are among those who receive low wages.

Migrante Aotearoa, a member of the global alliance Migrante International, is at the forefront of migrant Filipino campaigns and struggles, building awareness of and concern for the plight of poor and marginalized Filipinos at home and abroad, asserting their welfare and promoting their holistic development. Migrante chapters worldwide are campaigning against abuses in workplaces, policies and regulations that exploit and oppress migrant workers, and various immigration and employment-related issues affecting Filipinos and fellow migrants.

—DENNIS MAGA,

national coordinator,

Migrante Aotearoa NZ,

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migrante-aotearoa.org.nz

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TAGS: letters to the editor, Migrants, New Zealand, opinion
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