Export Education sector gets spring cleaning

Measures include increased vigilance, ending exploitation

Venkat Raman

The new Labour-led government is on the threshold of reintroducing the value-added, no-nonsense export promotion system that would ensure the rights of international students and end their exploitation by New Zealand employers.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has said that New Zealand’s export promotion system should be based on providing quality education, not allowing people to use student visas as a backdoor entry to residency.

Writing in our 18th Anniversary Special included in this issue, he said that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had approved more than 18,000 student visas during the last financial year, second only to China.

“We are now seeing a very welcome increase in the number of visa applications from Indian students undertaking high quality study. I view this as a very positive development, since much of the recent growth in international education has been in low-value courses designed to attract students looking for a pathway to residency.

Ending Exploitation

Mr Lees-Galloway said that his Government is focused on addressing migrant exploitation and ensuring that the right resources are in place to tackle the issue.

Indian Newslink readers are well aware from experiences in the Indian community that too many migrants in New Zealand are being underpaid or not receiving what their employer promised them. That is why we will double the number of labour inspectors and ensure that they are located in areas with high levels of migrant workers. A lot of work is already going on involving INZ, the Labour inspectorate and other agencies to detect and respond to instances of migrant exploitation in high-risk industries such as retail, hospitality and horticulture,” he said.

Mr Lees-Galloway is aware that much more can and should be done with increased resources and ensure that migrants have the same employment rights as other workers in New Zealand.

“Migrant exploitation is not only bad for the migrants, but it also means the wages and conditions of New Zealand workers are undercut. In a nutshell, a society dependent on exploitation is not the kind of country New Zealand should be,” he said.

Unacceptable behaviour

International students have in recent years protested their exploitation and cancellation of their visas buy INZ on the grounds that the documents and information that they provided were either fake or incorrect.

Former Ministers of both National and Labour have written in this newspaper that there is justification for public outrage over owners of small enterprises and entrepreneurs who have been allegedly underpaying and overworking migrant workers at place of work.

It is sad to note that some owners of Indian companies have been exploiting students and migrant workers from India. We have reported in our past issues that some employers have been extracting about 70 hours of work from these disparate overseas workers, paying them just $265 per week. In public view and of course the law, both are wrong. Every worker in New Zealand is entitled to the prescribed minimum wage (currently $15.25 per hour) and work no more than 40 hours to 48 hours a week.

Angry Indians

People of the Indian community, especially from India are angry, not only because their good image is tarnished by such unscrupulous elements, but also because it is inhuman to exploit labour. Many of them have said that we should name, shame and boycott them.

The new measures will usher in a series of bold steps to stem the growth of rogue employers, exploitation of migrant workers and the increasing threat of illegal immigrants orchestrated by human traffickers.

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Photo Caption:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

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