Migrant Worker Changes Fall Short

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party welcomes the Government’s decision to accept the recommendations of the review into the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) but calls on Ministers to address the core of exploitation by decoupling work visas from single employers.

“It’s clear that the way the AEWV has been administered has led to an increase of exploitation, but so long as people’s whole livelihoods depend on a single employer this scheme will continue to enable exploitation,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, Green Party’s Immigration Spokesperson.

“Our immigration policies should welcome people into our communities who want to make Aotearoa home, bringing their experiences, skills, and perspectives. However, tying their visas to specific employers limits the choices migrants have and the contributions they can make, and opens up opportunities for exploitation.

“So long as we continue tying visas to single employers we will continue to see the kind of harrowing stories of exploitation that have been in the media regularly.

“Decoupling work visas from single employers so workers can leave exploitative employers, as well as default union membership for migrant workers will strengthen the rights of people coming to Aotearoa.

“Today’s report confirms that the exploitation of people coming to Aotearoa for work remains a massive problem.

“In 2018 alone, it estimated that 20,000 migrant workers were being exploited. Even after the passing of the Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa, which we worked with Labour on, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment still paints a wider picture of exploitation in New Zealand.

“It is critical the government addresses the policy settings that enable migrants to be exploited in the first place, rather than only addressing it once it has happened. By decoupling work visas from single employers we enable migrants to be able to leave exploitative conditions before it puts their wellbeing in peril.

“The Green Party has been the only party campaigning to end the exploitative practice of binding migrants to a single employer following calls from unions, migrant rights advocacy groups and migrants themselves.

“With a track record of securing gains for migrant communities this term the Greens will continue fighting to end migrant exploitation and better support victims,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.

/Public Release. View in full here.