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Woodhouse should close work visa loophole

The Immigration Minister must revoke the work visas of temporary Chinese engineers working on KiwiRail trains and close the loophole that allows their employers to avoid New Zealand employment laws, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues, Iain Lees-Galloway.

“New Zealanders expect that when people work on New Zealand soil, they are employed under our laws. It is simply not right that overseas companies can win a tender for work in this country and bring in temporary workers that are exempt from our labour law.

“Michael Woodhouse doesn’t seem to understand that.

“He needs to change his mind and look further into allegations that these workers are not receiving the minimum wage and other minimum employment rights afforded to New Zealand workers.

“By his own low standards, these workers meet the threshold for being subject to New Zealand law. That means the Employment Relations Act, the Minimum Wage Act and the Health and Safety in Employment Act all apply.

“Labour inspectors have not been able to determine whether or not these workers received all their basic rights, because, as Michael Woodhouse said in the House, they were told to mind their own business. That is a clear breach of the Minimum Wage Act.

Labour MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard said: “These jobs could be done by local workers under the protection of New Zealand’s laws. It is one thing to give a tender to an overseas company and deny local workers jobs, it is much worse to deny the overseas workers the protection of our laws.”