19 July 2024

Deportation for two farm workers for visa breach

Horticulture contractors found exploiting workers

Two migrants working in the horticulture industry have been taken into custody for deportation for working in breach of their visa,s and another issued notice for liable of deportation.

These three are among 11 workers found to have breached their visas as a result of a investigation by Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand. Seven were in Hastings and four in Pukekohe.

The team of Labour Inspectorate and INZ visited two Pukekohe vegetable farms and one orchard in Hawkes Bay as part of a proactive programme to check compliance in the horticulture sector.

A number of contractors operating on the Fresh Grower Ltd and Hira Bhana & Co Ltd farms in Pukekohe had no employment agreements for their employees, and were allegedly paying them no more than $14.50 an hour in cash – significantly below the current minimum wage. One contractor had migrant employees working illegally on visitors’ visas.

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The visit to Hope Orchard in Hastings also uncovered a number of migrant workers without legal working visas.  The Labour Inspectorate is still investigating the two contractors that were found working on this orchard.

“This is a very disappointing outcome and shows growers are failing due diligence on the contractors they use for labour,” says Kevin Finnegan, Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager .

“Despite being members of the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association and purporting to have an assurance programme in place, the growers failed to ensure workers in their supply chains were treated fairly and in accordance with the law”.

Immigration New Zealand’s General Manager, Verification and Compliance, Stephen Vaughan, says it’s very concerning that seven people were working in breach of their visas in Hastings and four in Pukekohe. Eight of the workers were issued warnings, two were taken into custody for deportation and one was issued a notice making him liable for deportation.

“This is a stark reminder to contractors to ensure that all their workers are legally able to work and if they’re from overseas that they have their right visas,” Vaughan says. “We will not tolerate contractors flouting the law and will take strong action when they do.”

Enforcement action against the employers is still being finalised.

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