Mainfreight hits out at migrant ban

Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald staff,
Publish Date
Friday, 7 July 2017, 2:03PM
Mainfreight has hit out at the punishment. (New Zealand Herald Photo \ Sarah Ivey)
Mainfreight has hit out at the punishment. (New Zealand Herald Photo \ Sarah Ivey)

Mainfreight's chairman has hit out at "the increasing reach of bureaucracy" after it was banned from recruiting migrant workers after failing to provide employment agreements to three staff.

In a statement, Bruce Plested said the three workers who did not have signed employment contracts all still work for Mainfreight.

"All three of them are, and always have been, New Zealand citizens without any visa complexity or elements to their employment."

Mainfreight Limited is unable to hire migrant workers from April 28 until October 28 this year, after being issued a $3000 infringement notice.

READ MORE: Mainfreight banned from hiring migrant workers

Plested said the stand-down removed the ability of the company to support or sponsor an individual's application for an extension of their work visa or residency application.

"In the main, this has meant that Mainfreight has had to suspend their exchange programme of bringing overseas team members to New Zealand for developmental purposes. A strange outcome given the nature of the transgression.

"Mainfreight has paid a high price in bad publicity for what is basically an administrative error. The increasing reach of bureaucracy continues to amaze."

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

LISTEN: 'Mainfreight should know better' - expert

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.

Last week 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.

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

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.

-NZ Herald

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