Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jobs For Kiwis: Skilled Migrants Not Getting A Fair Deal On Work Permit Extensions

The Motor Trade Association has added its voice to the outcry over the 'jobs for Kiwis' policy which has resulted in some migrants being denied work permit renewals, despite holding secure jobs. Many migrants are being told to leave NZ just weeks after their extensions are refused or warned to face the consequences of remaining in the country illegally.

"Motor Trade Association (MTA) spokesman Andy Cuming has called for permit extensions for some workers.

He said migrants who kept their jobs and continued to have the support of their employers should be granted renewal of existing work permits.

Mr Cuming MTA members hailed the contribution a number of skilled migrants had made to the industry and economy.

"There are cases now where permits are not being extended, and hard-working contributors are being advised they are no longer required in New Zealand -- despite employers wanting them."

He added changing the rules for such workers, brought in when there were skill shortages, was not a fair deal and did not reflect well on New Zealand.

The issue was "an unnecessary and unwelcome" consequence of reclassifying skilled shortage areas."

For today's posts see: latest posts

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2 Bus Crashes, Korean and Chinese Tourists Killed and Injured

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2 bus crashes occurred this morning in the South Island: link for more information
  • A Grace Tours bus carrying 13 Korean tourists rolled on the way to Milford Sound on state highway 94, Te Anau Downs. One person was killed and 4 were flown to hospital. The deceased person was later named as Kyungee Park, a Korean national with Australian residency.
  • Another bus with 18 Chinese tourists on board rolled near the Highway Cafe in Athol on State Highway 6. 8 people were taken to hospital.
Icy conditions and freezing fog were cited as contributing factors in the crashes.

For today's posts see: latest posts

Jobs For Kiwis - How It Impacted On An IT Worker

Just one story of how the "jobs for Kiwis" policy has impacted on the life of a European skilled worker who has lived in NZ for 8 years.

This is from a thread on the forum 8 July 2009
"Read my story here

My work permit expired in March 09, i applied to have it renewed mid February. It wasn't until early May that i was told that my application had been declined, by which time i had been without income for 6 weeks.

To my utter shock, i was told i had to leave NZ in two weeks, this in the form of a sticker on my passport for a visitor's permit, valid for 2 weeks. And a nice letter warning me of the concequences of overstaying.

Anyway, i applied for a reconsideration, but was told: the only way i could stay was to apply for PR, but i couldn't work while it was being processed.

So i made the decision to just pack up and leave this place for good. I tried to apply for an extension to my visitor's permit so i could get my affairs sorted (sell furniture, car, settle debts, etc). And to my horror i was told: "We cannot grant you a visitor's permit because we don't think you are a genuine tourist!!!!!"

Thankfully, an MP intervened, and my visitor's permit has been extended so i can sort out my personal affairs. Said MP has also represented my case to the Immigration minister, but i don't care anymore. i've seen how expendable i am here, and i don't ever want to be in a position where it can happen again.

My employers fought a good fight trying to keep me here, trying to get thru to the pin headed officials of NZIS. To them it was insane that i was asked to re-apply for a job that wasn't vacant, and for them to train "readily available" kiwis for a non existent vacancy.

Needless to say, i am really disappointed, i'm not even angry anymore. I just want to get out and never look back. Everyday i read stories about the same thing happening to other people and i just feel for them.

In summary, my entire life has been turned upside down, at the start of the year, i had a good, secure, well-paying job, and with one fell swoop, NZIS took it all away from me. First putting me in a 6 week limbo, with no income, then telling me to get lost.

Good luck to us all."
You may wonder why he doesn't apply for permanent residence? this is from the link above:

"Simple, have you got a couple of thousand dollars lying around?
EOI: $400
Application fee $1400 per person (x3 for family)
Medicals: approx $300 each (with X-ray, blood tests x3)
Police Clearances: approx $100 each (x2 adults)
Migrant levy: $300 each?

Add the cost of daily living and starting life in a new country and being the only income earner.

It ain't as easy as you think."
NB: He can't work whilst applying for PR (which could take months and there's no guarantee he'd be granted it anyway) because he no longer holds a work permit.

It's a shameful situation, there are many like him who are being forced out of stable jobs. New Zealand has lost a skilled IT expert who'll be snapped up by another country that knows how to manage its skills shortage appropriately and his employer will have to meet the considerable cost of trying to find someone to replace him.

We wish him and his family every success for the future.

More on the new "jobs for kiwis" policy and INZ shortcomings:
Migrants groups push to end 'hypocrisy' (9 July) - new migrants still arriving but no jobs
Government brain drain explosion (9 July) - StatsNZ show there's no brain drain
New Zealand PM implores Kiwis to leave Australia and come home (7 May)
South African Family kicked out (2 March)
NZ Government warned against limiting temp work visas
Colin Kemp, INZ's shifting goal posts and the skill shortage list
Migrants treated like waste products

For today's posts see: latest posts

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Productive Economy Council Warned Against Limiting Temp Work Visas

We're looking at the potential de-skilling of an entire nation.

As far back as April the Productive Economy Council warned against the long term consequences to the economy if skilled migrants are lost from New Zealand resulting in NZ companies being unable to compete on the global market.

NZ Business Needs To Protect Core Skills

April 6th, 2009

"The Govt needs to think carefully before deciding to limit temporary work visas for skilled migrants or interfere in any way with the retention decisions of companies. The Productive Economy Council says the Govt needs to consider why a productive company chooses to retain migrant workers over local workers, This would be the “skilled migrant” status of the workers.

The Council says many companies are facing long-term issues. The global economy has tanked, their markets have dried up and they need to think about how their companies can survive the immediate downturn while remaining in a strong position to exploit opportunities in their core markets when business picks up.

“The High Tech sector has only been able to survive in NZ thanks to skilled migrants and without them we would progressively lose over $2bn in exports generated from that sector alone. These figures probably apply in other elaborately transformed export sectors as well.” We need more skilled migrants, not less.

It warns “many of our most productive companies have struggled to attract skilled workers in recent years due to the booming international market. Right now talented people are displaced all over the world and the smarter countries will be working out how to get them contributing to their economy in the next ten years instead of having to compete against them.”

The Council warns “jobs for Kiwis first” is an appealing line for any politician to push, but it’s of no value if the short term gain results in a long-term loss as companies are left less able to compete on in the global market. Protecting jobs for Kiwis should be a long-term plan, not a short-term knee jerk reaction."

No one has mentioned the impact this is going to have on the multi billion dollar 'export education' market. Many foreign students view NZ courses as pathways to New Zealand residency.

For today's posts see: latest posts

"Migrants Treated Like Waste Products"

By Rebecca Todd - The Press

"New Zealand is treating migrants like waste products using them and then throwing them away, says Wigram MP Jim Anderton.

"They come under policies that allow and encourage them to come, and then when things turn bad we kind of dispose of them like a waste product," he said yesterday. "It's inhumane."

Anderton will attend a meeting today at Christchurch's Skilled Migrant Information and Resource Centre on fair treatment for migrants who are being forced out of New Zealand if they lose their jobs.

He said skilled migrants should be given time and help in finding another job if made redundant and should qualify for government assistance while unemployed.

Migrants in his electorate had been caught out by the change in economic conditions and were being told to head home.

"People come here in good faith with good skills to offer," Anderton said.

"It shouldn't be that long before things pick up again and we'll be after the same skills, but people burnt by this won't be enthusiastic about recommending New Zealand....." more here

Mr Anderton is a master of the understatement and news is already spreading fast with rumours that British newspaper "The Sun" is to investigate the affair.

Is the door closing on Skilled migration in New Zealand?

What isn't really coming out in some of the press reports is that some applications/renewals for visas are being made by migrants with job offers but they're turned down - despite them meeting all the necessary pre-requisites and having jobs that are either on the Long Term Skill Shortage List or the Immediate Skill Shortage List.

Filipino migrants threaten to become overstayers

Last month the plight of thousands of Filipino migrants threatened with expulsion from New Zealand was raised by the Philippine consul-general Emilie Shi. 30,000 Filipino migrants hold work permits or are on work to residence schemes.

She called on the NZ government to "have some compassion and human consideration" when workers were refused visa extensions. According to the Department of Labour there were New Zealanders available to do their work. But if New Zealanders are available for work why aren't they given the jobs - why were they offered to migrants? Could it be that there is still a skills shortage in New Zealand!

Some of the migrants threatened to remain in the country and work illegally, rather than be forced to return home and lose everything they owned. This led to calls from INZ for migrant support groups to "dob-in" (report) overstayers. Since then the problem has grown worse and migrants from other countries have become caught up in what many are starting to call NZ's new 'anti-immigration' policy.

See also:

Call to create fund for migrants

Paradise turns sour

British immigrants face a hostile reception after Maoris call for curb

For today's posts see: latest posts

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Colin Kemp, Immigration New Zealand's Shifting Goal Posts And The Skill Shortage List

The perils of emigrating on temporary work visas were recently highlighted with the story of Colin Kemp and his family who emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland last year.

According to various press reports Mr Kemp was granted a work visa after being offered a job whilst in NZ on holiday - a not uncommon route for many migrants. New Zealand officially used to have something called a 'skills shortage' and Mr Kemp's trade as an aluminium joiner was sought after, a 2 year job contract was offered to him and he was granted a temporary work visa.

Presumably the Kemp family's aim was to apply for permanent visas when they met the necessary 2 year requirement. However the dream turned into a nightmare when Mr Kemp was made redundant and effectively lost his work visa. But then his problems really started - getting another job offer was easy in comparison to getting another visa.

When he told Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that he'd been made redundant he was advised that getting a new visa involved a straight forward amendment to his current one and that he'd have 2-3 months to find a new position.

But when he applied for a temporary visitors visa he was then given conflicting information by the INZ in that he and his family were now over-stayers and had to leave the country, despite it costing the country nothing for them to remain there. To make matters worse he also found out that his occupation had recently been removed from the Skill Shortage List: the goal posts had not only been moved but the game had been called off.

Mr Kemp succeeded in finding another job but according to "officials told his prospective employer he was unlikely to get another work permit." The Kemp family, who is unable to claim benefits, is now reliant on family to pay for their tickets home to Britain. They may well have household belongings to ship home too which will cost $10,000-$20,000 and no doubt many other expenses associated with giving up their home in NZ and re-establishing themselves in the UK. Money that they simply do not have.

Lose-Lose situation
The Kemps lose their home, their dream, their savings and their security. One prospective employer has lost a valuable skilled worker, which will no doubt impact on his business' performance and NZ has lost the taxes that both Mr Kemp and his wife were paying.
Other prospective migrants will look at this debacle and wonder if NZ is worthy of their investment (migrating isn't cheap, it can easily cost a family tens of thousands of dollars that will never be recouped)

Employers denied skilled staff
Mike Bell, of a migrant support group in NZ, was interviewed on this matter and was quoted as saying
"These workers have been invited. But they are effectively being told New Zealand doesn't want them any more. Many have applications for new or renewed permits declined, even if their occupations are on the "Essential Skills" list. Desperate employers are denied permission to keep skilled staff....We are seeing families who have worked here years being effectively kicked out in two weeks.

'Many have existing jobs or offers of work in areas listed by immigration as being in dire shortage. Employers are tearing their hair out as there's nothing they can do."

The Kemps aren't the only ones:
South African to be deported after change in policy
Redundant migrants 'forced out'
Immigrants deceived
Government website claims mislead migrants
NZ accused of anti-immigration work visa policy

It seems that yet again INZ has dropped the ball and hasn't yet cast aside its "Dysfunctional" label. Between the government and its immigration service it's starting to look as if the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. Or is INZ simply implementing government policy and implementing a headline grabbing "jobs for kiwis" policy?

Despite a recent radical shake-up following an Auditor General's report that was supposed to have brought the long ailing INZ in to line, it looks like it is still operating in an inconsistent way which is failing both the migrants that NZ still obviously needs and the employers it is supposed to be servicing.

For background see:
44 Occupations removed from immediate skill shortage list
NZ immigration service needs urgent attention
Inefficient immigration service still ruining immigrants' lives

For today's posts see: latest posts

Monday, July 6, 2009

Toran Henry

Toran Henry died after a fight at Takapuna Grammar School.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ryotaro Wright Attacked At Forest View High School

A number of news outlets are this morning carrying a story about another kid getting a beating - Ryotaro Wright a student of Forest View High School, Tokoroa who was actually attacked whilst at school.

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Google Street View: Forest View High School

"Whale muncher"
The allegations are that Ryotaro was dropped on his head by four bullies and his father told the NZ Herald yesterday:
"his son had been racially abused by four students over the past few weeks, including being called "whale muncher".
"I think they just think Asians are physically smaller than average Kiwis so it makes them easy targets. He's the type of boy who doesn't react normally, he sort of brushes things off."
On Tuesday morning, however, Wright believed his son was defending a friend.
"This big guy turned around and picked up Ryotaro and dropped him. I was told that these boys have been trying to bait Ryotaro for a while."
Forest View High School, whose motto is "Courage Knows No Defeat", recently honoured Ryotaro in its Premium Student Achievement Awards. He achieved the Year 9 JCEA with excellence having achieved at least 40 credits of the minimum 70 credits at the Excellence Level.
The attack left him with a potentially fatal blood clot which required surgery to remove, he may also suffer long term effects from a brain injury.
All Blacks members Richard Kahui and Ian Foster are both ex students of the school.

NZ second worst in world for school bullying

New Zealand recently scored second worst in the world for school bullying, ranking 34 out of 35 countries in a major international study.
Auckland paediatrician Ian Hassall said the high rates of bullying reflected a "punitive culture". Mr Hassall used to be the Children's Commissioner

"It's not just children who are bullied; adults bully as well," Hassall said. "We do have a punitive society that rather believes in punishing people and threatening them, so it's not surprising that children pick up on this and go punishing one another."

Other recent incidents

The attack comes just days after two sisters aged 13 and 14 were arrested after a mob attack at Fairfield College, Hamilton which took place last Wednesday.

There was a spate of seemingly random attacks on teenagers in June, see: Brutal attacks on teens. One of the attacks was on a 15 year old Thai student from Marlborough Boys' College who was punched repeatedly in the face.

In February two particularly disturbing incidents occured:
In August 2008 2 year 9 pupils from a Lower Hutt College were suspended after luring a 15 year old boy to a train station where he was beaten and left for dead.

See also:
news reports on the death of Takapuna Grammar School pupil Toran Henry

For today's posts see: latest posts


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