Mainfreight banned from hiring migrant workers

Author
Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald,
Section
Business,
Publish Date
Thursday, 6 July 2017, 8:56PM
Mainfreight ihas been included on the stand down list. (Photo \ Peter Meecham)
Mainfreight ihas been included on the stand down list. (Photo \ Peter Meecham)

Mainfreight is one of more than 50 employers stood down from recruiting migrant workers since new measures came into force a little over three months ago.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today revealed 53 employers had been stopped from recruiting migrant workers.

A list of those employers shows Mainfreight Limited is unable to hire migrant workers from April 28 until October 28 this year, with the relevant legislation listed as the Employment Relations Act 2000.

Labour Inspectorate acting national manager Stu Lumsden said Mainfreight Limited was restricted from recruiting migrant labour after being issued a $3000 infringement notice.

"[This was] as a result of the employer's failure to provide employment agreements to three employees."

The Herald has approached Mainfreight for comment.

Other companies on the stand-down list include Mexicano Ltd, Eden Road Fruit, Greg Topp Electrical, Café Pasha, Rayland Epsom and ZH Construction.

Earlier this year the Government announced the clampdown on employers. Those who have incurred a penalty will be stood down from hiring for periods ranging from six months to two years. The changes came into effect on April 1.

Labour's workplace relations and safety spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said 53 employers censured was an "astonishing" number and showed how series and undetected the problem was.

"There's not even on labour inspector based in Marlborough which is our biggest wine growing region...Labour will double the number of labour inspectors across the country to stamp out migrant exploitation."

Last week Mainfreight founder and chairman Bruce Plested called on politicians to take action to fix New Zealand's "social disgrace" around housing.

"No government or local government has taken any meaningful action against this rising tide," Plested said during his chairman's statement for the transport and logistics company's latest annual report.

Woodhouse revealed the number of employers who had been sanctioned in a speech to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) conference.

The 10-year-old scheme allows workers from Pacific countries into New Zealand temporarily to fill gaps in the horticulture and viticulture industries, and has a cap of 10,500.

Woodhouse hailed the success of the scheme, saying it had allowed businesses to grow and expand - leading to more New Zealanders getting jobs.

But he said there was no doubt a minority of employers had let the horticulture and viticulture industries down.

"This has become particularly evident in Marlborough recently with a number of complaints being made to the Labour Inspectorate about employers not meeting their minimum employment standards obligation.

"It is simply unacceptable that those employers who breach employment and/or immigration law are still able to recruit from the international labour market and disadvantage those employers who do the right thing."

Woodhouse said the 53 employers captured by the April change only included four employers in the horticulture and viticulture industries.

"We are heading in the right direction as far as compliance goes."

However, Woodhouse warned that incidents involving RSE workers were already topping 40 this year - more than the total number for the last year, while only being at the six month mark.

"I know that INZ has contacted all RSE employers to emphasise the importance of pastoral care and ensuring their workers behave appropriately. The same message has been given to the Governments of RSE-sending countries.

"I'm reassured by the measures many of them have already put in place such as the Fijian Government's recent announcement banning workers who damage the country's reputation from further seasonal work opportunities for four years."

-NZ Herald

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