The Labour government of New Zealand has announced it will launch an inquiry into migrant and international student abuse, aiming to promote the country as a great place for foreigners to study and work.
“We are working on a number of fronts to stamp out the shameful exploitation of international students,” the country’s Immigration and Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Parliament as quoted by Newsroom.
“Exploitation is a source of human misery and is simply not acceptable in New Zealand. We need to be known as a nation that upholds workers’ rights and a great place for migrants to live and work,” he said.
Trade unions and migration lawyers have raised cases where students on temporary visas are being paid less than the minimum wage, work long hours and are not being provided holiday or sick leave.
International students in New Zealand are granted work rights during and after their study.
“It’s often very difficult for a migrant to come forward, to tell your story, to lay complaints where it would be perfectly legitimate to lay a complaint,” added Lees-Galloway.
“A lot of people feel very vulnerable. They feel very exposed, so we want to create an opportunity for people to tell their stories.”
Elected last year, New Zealand’s incumbent PM Jacinda Ardern has pledged to invest much more in education, including promising three years’ free tuition for students at New Zealand universities by 2024.
Her government has also promised to provide an extra NZD50 (US$35) a week for those who receive student allowances.