Exploitation of workers in this country happens to New Zealand citizens and migrants.
The Coromandel Workers Council (CWC) is working to end all forms of worker exploitation across the Coromandel Peninsula whilst standing in solidarity with all workers across the planet for their rights.
In New Zealand (and globally) worker exploitation is found to occur mostly in labour intensive industries such as construction, dairy, fishing, horticulture and viticulture, hospitality and the sex worker industry. Studies have shown that the health and aged care, retail and service sector are also experiencing high volumes of worker exploitation.
We understand that the current economic climate is causing hardship to some businesses and that cost reductions are often a necessary step in keeping afloat. We aim to work with employers to ensure that job cuts or wage restraints are not the first or only option in the kete.
Worker exploitation is not always obvious to those most affected by it and our goal is to help workers identify when they are being exploited and provide them the help they need to end it. Exploitation can take the form of wages being withheld, long shifts without breaks, hourly rates falling far below the legal minimum, workers being threatened with deportation if they complain, zero contracts, verbal and physical abuse, and having their movements restricted.
We are working to put an end to this type of exploitation and see that there are many challenges that lie ahead of use. The biggest challenge is to get people to come and talk to us to reveal the exploitation that they are incurring. Workers may remain silent for a number of reasons. In some areas of New Zealand employment opportunities are scarce so there is a fear that their job and those of their colleagues will be taken away. Migrants who tolerate this exploitative treatment are often seeking residency and fear the threats of deportation from their employers should they complain.
We believe that there is a need for an organisation like the CWC to give workers an opportunity to end their exploitation and offer support to employers to meet their minimum responsibilities as the first step to workplace equity. To ensure that this can happen we are also offering support services to businesses to help them ensure that they are know what those responsibilities, how they can meet them and the benefits that they will gain from implementing them in the workplace.