Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pike River Migrants Face Deportation From New Zealand, Happy Christmas?

Despite all the talk about keeping valuable, skilled miners in New Zealand following the explosion and subsequent closure of the Pike River Colliery, a number of immigrants working at the pit have been told they have to leave New Zealand in a few weeks if they don’t find alternative employment. They are already living in New Zealand illegally and say that if they stay on they will be deported.

Shockingly of the 20 migrants, all from ‘western’ countries, including 12 from South Africa, only 2 have managed to attain permanent residency. This case highlights the perilous state that many migrants on work permits find themselves in when they emigrate to New Zealand and how little protection they have when they lose their jobs. It also highlights how dependent New Zealand is on skilled migrant labour and how it fails to retain the people it really needs.

This appeared in Monday’s Greymouth Star newspaper:
Out-of-work miners who were lured to the West Coast for employment at Pike River say they have been given weeks to find work or face deportation.
Of the 20 migrants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Germany who were made redundant last week after the hapless Pike River Coal Company was placed in receivership, only two have permanent residency.
One UK man, who moved to Greymouth a year ago specifically to work at Pike River, told the Greymouth Star he had been given five weeks to find work or leave town.
Immigration New Zealand officials were in Greymouth for two days last week to deliver more bad news to the newly-redundant miners.
“When I walked in I was told I was now living in New Zealand illegally and that they would turn a ‘blind eye’ for five weeks while I either found another job in Greymouth or left the country,” the UK miner, who asked for anonymity, said… read much more here
The New Zealand mining industry brought these men over from their homes countries so that they could work in their mines, when the jobs disappear are they to be thrown on the scrap heap and treated like undesirables? At the very least Work and Income and should be pulling out all the stops and finding them suitable employment, and if that’s not possible fully fund their repatriation expenses (including shipping of their household goods) or onward migration to another country that deserves them more.
One of the redundant UK miners told the paper
“I’ve just lost my mates in that mine, we are still in shock, now we are being forced to leave — what sort of Christmas are we going to have?”
…Bernie Monk, elected spokesman for the families of the 29 mine victims, said the situation for the migrant workers was “gut wrenching”.
He personally knew one of the men affected.
“Because his contract with Pike River is now null and void he no longer has a job. He has been told he has to find another job over $55,000 otherwise he will need to leave the country.
“He loves this place and doesn’t want to leave. This guy is still getting to grips with losing his workmates and then to have to deal with this … when will it end?”
Mr Monk said he had been working with West Coast MPs to try to get some compassion under the circumstances.”
We wish the men and their families the best of luck with getting some compassion, which they are more than entitled to.  We just hope that their impending deportation doesn’t affect their redundancy payments.

You may also find interesting:

Posts tagged:  Jobs for Kiwis

Philippines warns citizens against NZ work-to-residence scheme:
“”Philippines consul-general Emilie Shi says Immigration New Zealand is not doing enough to warn would-be applicants about the difficulties of finding a job or telling them that Kiwis will be given preference by employers.
“Immigration New Zealand continues to say what a great place this country is to come live and work in, but they cover up the fact that it is very difficult to find a job here, or that they will be treated as second-class workers under the scheme,” Ms Shi said….”"

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