Probe into exploitation of Indian, Bangladeshi nationals in New Zealand

The New Zealand government has launched a comprehensive probe into the alleged case of exploitation of 115 Indian and Bangladeshi nationals who arrived in the country with the promise of employment that did not materialise.
These individuals were accommodated in properties that were not fit to house so many people. The conditions of the accommodation were unhygienic, unsanitary, and inappropriate, New Zealand Immigration said in a press release.

“Our investigators have spoken with 115 Indian and Bangladeshi nationals who arrived in New Zealand on Accredited Employment Work Visas (AEWV) with the promise of employment when they arrived. Individuals have indicated they paid a substantial amount for the visa and a job, yet most are still waiting for any paid work,” the immigration authority said.

Despite paying significant sums of money, ranging from USD 15,000 (approx INR 12,46,778) to USD 40,000 (approx INR 33,24,742), to various agents for their visas and related jobs, most of these workers were not provided with any paid employment, news portal reported.

The Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) is a temporary work visa category. Some individuals have been in New Zealand for several months and some have more recently arrived. The Indian High Commission has been engaged to provide support to their nationals, the immigration authority said.

The Indian High Commission in a tweet on Friday last week said, “As soon as we were informed regarding Indian workers in distress in Auckland, we reached out to support them. Food & Consular services provided to the workers. We are in touch with all concerned. We are committed to the welfare of the Indian community in NZ.” According to a report in The New Zealand Herald newspaper, the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme already has 164 active investigations after complaints of worker exploitation and breaches.

The scheme, established in July last year, has approved nearly 81,000 visas among about 27,900 accredited employers. It was meant to counter exploitation by ensuring employers were viable and treated their employees fairly, with pre- and post-accreditation checks, it said.

Immigration Minister Andrew Little has ordered an urgent independent review of how the scheme is being operated after “serious concerns” were raised by a whistleblower on Tuesday last week that checks of potential accredited employers were not being carried out, the report said.