Better systems needed to address worker exploitation in New Zealand

Better systems needed to address worker exploitation in New Zealand

December 14, 2016

A report out today has highlighted the urgent need for systems that better monitor worker exploitation in New Zealand, says the Human Rights Commission.   

The report, Worker Exploitation in New Zealand: A Troubling Landscape, was released today by The Human Trafficking Research Coalition and presents research for the first time on the extent of exploitation in New Zealand. 

It outlines a significant number of cases of worker exploitation in New Zealand – particularly in the dairy, horticultural, hospitality and international education industries. 

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says the report provides compelling evidence of industries and specific vulnerable demographics that experience elevated levels of exploitation.  

“For too long, we have had the blinkers on when it comes to worker exploitation in New Zealand. It’s appalling that in 2016, we are seeing cases that are verging on slave labour. The current systems, that facilitate the exploitation and abuse of people, need to be changed. 

“This report, in addition to the country’s first human trafficking conviction earlier this year, is confirmation that grave human rights abuses are taking place in the employment of particularly migrants and that steps need to be immediately taken to address the issue. 

“More needs to be done to ensure the human rights of all workers are being upheld through further research and monitoring.” 

“We agree with the overall intention of the recommendations included in the report, which is that a coordinated inter-agency response is needed from the government. More research and better monitoring systems need to be put in place to track human trafficking and worker exploitation in New Zealand.

“The industries in which many of these cases of exploitation are happening are vital to New Zealand’s export market, economy, and international reputation.

“Now that there is concrete evidence that this is happening, we need to ensure we are equipped to identify and then support those vulnerable people. The onus is now on the Government to seriously consider the recommendations of the report and actively address this issue.”

To access the full report:

Human Rights Commission

The Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.