Migrants can prevent employer abuse

The recent news of Labour Department inspectors investigating claims of an Indian Auckland restaurant chain paying workers $4 an hour follows a steadily growing list of similar incidents being reported.

Occurrences of employees being underpaid and overworked have also emanated from dairies, vineyards and eating establishments in the past.

The tale follows a familiar script; Indian immigrants, mostly students, are paid their wages in cash, much below the minimum wage rate, made to work for about 70 hours a week, denied benefits such as holiday pay and access to ACC, that form a part of the rules in force.

The villains

It is easy to paint the perpetrators, as villains of the piece.

But the bigger question is that employers’ inhuman demands are succeeding only because there is a supply of employees willing to act as conduits.

Students come to New Zealand to study, work and if qualified, settle in this beautiful country. There is no denying that the job market is tough.

Students are under constant pressure to have a part time job to make their ends meet and depend less on remittance from home. Many parents in India invest heavily on the education of children, often selling or mortgaging their assets.

Dignity of labour is a principle that everyone must recognise to get employment in New Zealand. No job is big or small; it is what we make of the job that eventually counts. Job aspirants should also adhere to the rules of the place.

Those accepting jobs with employers flouting the law are not doing anyone any favour. Such jobs add nothing to one’s resume; as you cannot even mention them on CVs. New Zealand experience is a must for migrants to progress in companies here.

Mentioning in an interview that last job you was on cash and unofficial basis will not endear anyone to future employers.

Unhealthy practice

Another trend reported is that some migrants pay agents or employers between $10,000 and $20,000 to secure jobs for obtaining residence. This illegal practice should be stopped.

Firstly, if caught, the person stands the risk of his or her application for work or residence permit rejected or withdrawn, with further service by Immigration New Zealand denied.

Secondly, how can people trust such companies that take money from jobseekers to get work and residence permit? What if they collapse or change their minds?

There is no legal recourse for victims of such fraud.

Employee strength

In order to succeed in life, we must work hard, improve skills and knowledge, seek continuous improvement, face challenges and remain optimistic.

Students and jobseekers must always perceive the bigger picture and should not succumb to unscrupulous employers, who breach working conditions and abuse their rights. They should hold their heads high and pursue their professional life with honesty and integrity. They can then be assured of positive results.

Related stories appear on the front page and under Communitylink, in addition to our editorial under Viewlink.

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