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Calls for the government to address lack of jobs and job security for migrant workers

31 January, 2024

Interview by Rosetta Stone, adapted by Sofia Roger Williams

FIRST Union General Secretary, Dennis Maga, says the collapse of labour hire agency ELE, leaving hundreds of migrant workers jobless is a “national issue”.

In December 2023, the recruitment organisation ELE group went into receivership, leaving around 1000 people, including many migrant workers, without employment and an income.

Of the migrant workers left jobless, of which more than half are Filipino, more than 300 are on temporary work visas and depend on being employed to stay in New Zealand. 

Immigration New Zealand has informed these migrant workers that they are only allowed to stay in the country for a further 42 days before their temporary work visas expire.

FIRST Union General Secretary, Dennis Maga, told 95bFM’s The Wire that the holiday season forced migrant workers to wait until businesses resume their interview processes. 

“We have been trying to explain to Immigration New Zealand that you can’t expect these workers to find a job during the holiday period.”

This month, FIRST Union New Zealand staged protests in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, targeting the offices of Deloitte, the receiver of ELE, and the Philippine Embassy.

Workers were protesting the delay of their final pay from Deloitte and promised financial aid from the Philippines government through the Philippines Embassy. 

Maga says the protests aim to bring attention to the way labour companies operate in Aotearoa. 

“They’re adding problems to society by not understanding the current labour market.”

“They keep stepping up recruitment from the Philippines, but there are no jobs or job security for them once they arrive.”

Maga also wants the government to increase guaranteed work hours from 30 to 40 hours a week for all migrant workers. 

“30 hours is not enough for them to survive.”

Maga says the response from the government and Immigration Minister Erica Stanford to ELE’s collapse is “not substantial enough”.

“We haven’t heard from the Immigration Minister publicly that this is a top priority and that the government is doing their best to address the concerns of these workers.”

Listen to the full interview 

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air