Report outlines discriminatory practices for migrants in the construction sector



STACY SQUIRES / STUFF

Many Filipino workers are burdened with debts in New Zealand as a result of paying companies to arrange their work here, and they are also reported to be significantly underpaid for their skills and experience.

Unfair rewards, uncertain working hours and inadequate living conditions are some of the problems facing migrant Filipino construction workers, according to a new report.

The report, conducted by trade union E tū, investigated the experiences of Filipino migrant workers in the construction sector in Christchurch and Auckland during 2017 and 2018.

The aim of the research was to find out what difficulties Filipino construction workers encountered in New Zealand and what steps can be taken to improve their experiences.

Migrant Filipino construction workers at the E tū meeting in Christchurch on Sunday.

STACY SQUIRES / STUFF

Migrant Filipino construction workers at the E tū meeting in Christchurch on Sunday.

The Filipino migrant worker, Roseldo Honrada, who worked as an electrician, said that he had to deal with a number of problems in his daily life.

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Since moving to Christchurch in 2015, he has paid a recruitment agency that deducts money from his earnings in exchange for getting work in New Zealand.

Electrician Roseldo Honrada says he is wrongly paid for how much experience he has.

STACY SQUIRES / STUFF

Electrician Roseldo Honrada says he is wrongly paid for how much experience he has.

Honrada received $ 18 per hour for work, even though he has eight years previous experience as an electrician in the Philippines. His pay was about $ 11 less than the average hourly rate in the construction sector in New Zealand, according to the E tū report.

"I feel that I am being paid for my skills unjustly … I am only paid slightly above the minimum wage.

"Many of my Kiwi colleagues have told me that the reward was very low and unfair, but I told them I have no choice, it's the only way I could come here."

An ETU report outlines discriminatory practices for Filipino migrants in the construction sector in New Zealand.

STACY SQUIRES / STUFF

An ETU report outlines discriminatory practices for Filipino migrants in the construction sector in New Zealand.

Many guest workers such as Honrada have paid agencies to let them work in New Zealand.

According to the E tū report many of the Filipino workers arrived in New Zealand with great debt because they paid companies to arrange jobs for them in New Zealand.

They also had numerous deductions from their wages, some of which seemed illegal, the report said.

Items collected in the meeting by Filipino construction workers.

STACY SQUIRES / STUFF

Items collected in the meeting by Filipino construction workers.

"The agencies certainly exploit us," said Honrada.

Because Honrada made so little and no benefits of overtime, one and a half hours or food allowances, he worked 10 hours a day for about six days a week.

He would work as much as possible so that he could earn enough money to support himself and his family in the Philippines.

E tū engineer and infrastructure coordinator Ron Angel said that it's heartrending & # 39; hearing was that Filipino workers were being exploited and respected & # 39; in the construction sector in New Zealand.

He said the industry was abusing "vulnerable workers" who were isolated and far away from home.

"We welcomed all these employees to Christchurch for reconstruction, but we did not really take care of them, we simply did not treat them with respect."

Angel said that E tū's investigation showed that migrant workers who were underpaid in the Philippines were purely because they were Filipino and for no other reason.

The study had a relatively small sample size with interviews by telephone and face to face interviews with Filipino construction workers. Approximately 82 employees were interviewed by telephone and a small number personally interviewed by focus groups in Christchurch and Auckland. Approximately 23 employers in the construction sector were interviewed in Wellington and four written questionnaires were completed by employers in 2018.

The most important findings were that Filipino migrant construction workers were significantly underpaid for their experience and received less pay than kiwiba traders.

It found the cost of the immigration process a major barrier, especially because of the low wages of migrants. It also appeared that many Filipino workers lived in inadequate accommodation with an example of a group of ten employees who rent a five-bedroom house and pay $ 150 a week in rent.

Angel said he was upset when he heard of the suffering that the Filipino workers were being exposed to.

"When I read this, it almost brought me into tears.

"Here we have welcomed these people in New Zealand to help rebuild Canterbury and have not cared for them, we have made life terrible for them and I am ashamed."

Angel hoped that contractors would take it upon themselves to treat migrants with respect. He said the report was sent to the ethnic community minister Jenny Salesa and he hoped that the discriminatory practices for migrants in the construction sector would be addressed.

– Stuff


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