Migrant worker exploitation goes unchecked

Investigations into migrant and worker exploitation have fallen by 70 per cent under Labour and require urgent attention, National’s Horticulture spokesperson Sam Uffindell says.

“Worker exploitation is a reality, and our migrant workers are particularly affected.

 “Workers can have their passports seized, be threatened and intimidated, and have their movement, communication, and living conditions controlled by employers.

“In response to written questions to Workplace Relations Minister Carmel Sepuloni, the extent of the problem has been revealed.

“Under resourcing has resulted in only 12 per cent of migrant exploitation complaints in the horticulture sector being reviewed.

“These shortcomings are having a devastating effect on people’s lives. Migrants suffer financially, psychologically, and physically.

“Labour was told that offending would increase because of a lack of resources at the labour inspectorate.

A select committee reported back saying this needs to be addressed, and the Government even passed legislation last year noting the severe shortcomings in combatting worker and migrant exploitation.

It is totally unacceptable that only five of the 41 complaints received in the horticulture sector in the 2022/23 year to 30/06/2023 were investigated.

“It is also puzzling that no specified funding was allocated for the labour inspectorate in the Horticulture sector, despite this sector carrying the risk of vulnerable migrant workers.

“National will ensure the labour inspectorate has the resources to ensure that our valuable migrant workers are treated with the respect, dignity and care they deserve.”