The Government says the plan will favour firms with good work practices and a commitment to hiring local workers. There will also be specific rules for labour hire firms to gain accreditation to bring in foreign workers, in a bid to prevent exploitation.
E tū’s Construction Industry Coordinator, Ron Angel says there is no mention of any requirement for firms to take on apprentices and to train local workers.
“They talk about firms needing a commitment to employ Kiwis as well as good work practices, but what does that mean?
“Right now, with some of the accredited schemes, there is already a training requirement, so they say, ‘Oh right, let’s do a health and safety course.’ Well, that’s important but it’s not producing tradespeople,” says Ron.
“We want a requirement to take on apprentices. It must be absolute – not a commitment. For example, if you bring in ten migrant workers, you need to take on one apprentice.
“In the Christchurch rebuild, so many firm didn’t employ Kiwis – they just went overseas to find people. It was hopeless.”
Ron says the union also wants to know how labour hire firms will be constrained from exploiting migrant workers.
“What are the specific rules for giving these firms accreditation? In my view, there should be easy access to unions, as well as wage and time records to ensure migrant workers are paid correctly.”
Ron says a fast-track dispute process is also needed.
“When migrant workers have a problem, they are often afraid their visa will be revoked if they try to address it. They need better protection and options for where they can go,” he says.