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Thread: Get rid of migrant workers first

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    Exclamation Get rid of migrant workers first

    Get rid of migrant workers first: unions
    The Press
    Last updated 05:00 17/03/2009

    Unions are urging the Government to tighten borders and companies to fire migrant workers before Kiwis, as the full force of the recession hits.

    The call comes as the Australian Government announces plans to reduce migrant numbers by 14 percent and remove building and manufacturing trades from its skills-shortage list.

    Manufacturing and Construction Workers Union general secretary Graeme Clarke said the union had been in contact with the Government about companies continuing to employ migrant workers.

    Any businesses that had imported workers through the skills-shortage list should have to "re-prove" they could not fill the positions with Kiwi workers, he said.

    "Our answer has always been `yes, you can import people', but now we want it proved again that the shortage still exists."

    Christchurch branch secretary Phil Yarrall said the union complained to the Labour Department about jet boat manufacturer CWF Hamilton's decision to make 28 Kiwi workers redundant while retaining 24 migrant workers on temporary contracts.

    "They got the permit because there was a labour shortage. Now there's no shortage," he said.

    Yarrall said it was concerning that at least one local company had recently applied to bring in more migrant workers when there was clearly no longer a need.

    Twenty-three-year-old Kane McVicar was made redundant from CWF Hamilton last Tuesday.

    Some of his friends had trained up the migrant workers who were now keeping their jobs, he said.

    "A lot of people are quite angry about it. They think it's a bit unfair."

    CWF Hamilton would not comment.

    Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said he was dealing with a similar situation at a New Plymouth business.

    Migrant workers had helped New Zealand through years of major skills shortages, but there were now questions over what to do when Kiwi workers were losing jobs. "Kiwi workers are obviously capable of making a long-term commitment to the business, but those on work visas are limited to a couple of years," he said.

    "I would hope employers would take that into account," he said.

    In Australia, the Government has announced plans to reduce the country's intake of foreign workers by 18,500 in 2009 a cut of 14 percent.

    New Zealand Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said Australia had increased the number of permanent migrants by about 35 percent over the past two years.

    New Zealand, meanwhile, retained its annual permanent intake at about 45,000 and controlled labour flows through the number of short-term migrants it accepted.

    "Temporary visas are more of a tap that can be turned on and off," he said.

    Coleman expected the number of migrants entering, or remaining in, New Zealand on short-term visas would drop during the recession.

    "Immigration is extremely important to New Zealand and our economy but the emphasis has to be on trying to make sure as many New Zealanders are employed as possible."

    MIGRANT LABOUR: A record 188,000 temporary work applications were approved in 2007-08, up 13 percent on the year before. New Zealand accepted 46,000 permanent migrants over 2007-2008; 60 percent through the skilled or business category, 30 percent family reunification and 10 percent on humanitarian grounds.

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    Migrants' visas cut back after locals' jobs axed
    12:20PM Thursday Apr 02, 2009

    Six foreign workers on temporary visas who kept their jobs while their New Zealand colleagues were made redundant can no longer do the work of the axed staff.

    Last week Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman asked Immigration New Zealand to look into reports that 28 workers at MCK Metals Pacific Ltd at Bell Block were made redundant last October while Filipino welders on temporary work permits kept their jobs.

    MCK Metals chief executive Pramod Khatri said nine workers from the Philippines were hired in October 2007 to do specialised aluminium welding and polishing when the firm was unable to get skilled New Zealand workers to fill the vacancies.

    An Immigration NZ spokeswoman said the decision had been made to cancel the variation of conditions given to six of the foreign welders' work visas which had allowed them to do wider work.

    More here.
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    Plan to slash permits worries migrants
    4:00AM Monday Apr 06, 2009
    By Lincoln Tan

    Worried migrant workers, migrant advocates and union representatives will meet tomorrow night to discuss a response to the Government's plan to slash migrant work permits.

    "Migrant advocates have raised concerns that racist sentiments are being fostered and ask why migrant workers shouldn't have their rights protected. New Zealanders ask why they should be sacked when temporary visa holders keep their jobs," wrote orgainser Mike Treen, in an email invitation to the public meeting. "This raises questions on how unions should be approaching migrant workers when there may be conflicting claims for support from different groups of workers who are their members."

    Meeting organiser Dennis Maga said migrant workers on temporary permits were "worried sick" about their futures, and wanted to know if the unions would protect their rights during the recession.

    "The politicians are calling for migrant workers to be laid off first, and the immigration service has revoked visas from some workers who kept their jobs," said Mr Maga, who heads Migrante Aotearoa, a union for migrant workers.

    More here.
    Mother Bear

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