New Zealand’s exploitation problem has been referred to as ‘endemic’. It is widespread across New Zealand industry and the lack of support for victims is abhorrent. The general view is ‘that it is better than where they come from’.
New Zealand has 235,000 temporary workers at any one time. Measuring the extent of exploitation is incredibly difficult due to its clandestine nature. However, we know through research that temporary working migrants are more vulnerable, and the number of complaints is rising.
We have seen first-hand the terrible effect this has on the victims and have not been able to offer them the support they required when we were investigating trafficking in persons throughout NZ.
The purpose of this foundation is to support those victims of modern slavery, provide the necessities to get them back on their feet and assist them in achieving their goals within New Zealand communities.
This foundation is not based on religion and has no minimum requirements to meet. We have been established to help all victims of exploitation.
Modern Slavery - a frightening new reality in New Zealand.
by Dr Christina Stringer.
"What underpins the exploitation of many temporary migrant workers in New Zealand is their vulnerability . Some employers actively tap into and leverage this vulnerability, as they know the migrants weaknesses. Some migrants view themselves as 'prey' as prospective employers actively seek out the most vulnerable.
Temporary migrants can be required to work excessive hours - 12 to 18-hour shifts are common. Some will work up to 90 hours a week but only be paid for 45 hours. Some are paid well below the New Zealand minimum wage - as little as $5 per hour. It is not uncommon for some of the employers to pay their employees the New Zealand legal wage, but demand the employees return a portion of their wages in cash.
Excessive hours of work, on a continual basis, has severe health and safety implications. Essential skills work visa holders, whose visa are linked to their employers (employers sponsored visas), cannot easily change jobs, This can leave them vulnerable and open to exploitation.
One employer physically assaulted his employee for reporting him to Immigration NZ. Another employer verbally threaten a migrant worker, that if he didn't do what he asked, his body wouldn't be found. A threat the migrant worker took seriously.
Yet another was beaten by his employer because he had reported his abusive working conditions to his agent back in his home country. The agent, in turn, reported him back to the employer. Exploitation ranges from serious breaches on employment law to extreme cases of modern slavery.
These cases have become a frightening new reality in New Zealand."