Filipino Construction Workers Exploited in New Zealand

A New Zealand university has uncovered malpractice among employers of foreign workers in the country.

The Auckland University study revealed that exploitation on workers comes in various forms, including not wearing safety gear, no employment contracts, no holiday pay and no toilet break.

TV channel Newshub recently spoke to Filipino construction workers who work at a site with no protective clothing. An interview among the workers by the university found out that many of them received only $4 an hour or even none at all. Work shifts can last 18 hours or equivalent to 90 a week.

Many of the workers told researchers they were frequently insulted, and verbally or physically abused.

Newshub met two Filipino construction workers who were brought to New Zealand by an agency who promised them work upon their arrival. However, when they arrived, both claimed they had no job to go to, and proper accommodation — they had to sleep on the mattress laid on the floor.

“Eight days, no work,” one builder told Newshub.

Once they started work, they found out they had to work four storeys up with no safety harness.

“There’s no health and safety training for these workers. They’re actually endangering their lives – working there without any harness on a four floor building. So that is really problematic,” First Union National Organiser Dennis Maga said.

But after risking their lives working in precarious conditions, the duo has since been dismissed for claims of substandard work, which they claim is untrue.

A research by Dr Christina Stringer, a researcher at Auckland University, concluded that such unfair labor practice is widespread.

The study involved Dr Stringer interviewing 105 workers, and described their conditions as similar to modern-day slavery.

“Some became quite emotional … they shed tears. A lot of them expressed fear, frustration, anger,” said Dr Stringer.