Chinese workers in New Zealand allegedly left without passports, food, toilet paper

A group of 23 Chinese workers brought here to help with Auckland's construction boom say they've been left without work or pay and are now facing eviction from their accommodation.

The men are part of a group of 48 who signed contracts with recruitment firm, National Personnel Limited or NPL.

But they say another man, Peter Li - aka Wenshan Li - brought the men to New Zealand and charged huge fees - between $40,000 and $55,000.

Now the men say they've had trespass notices issued against them and representatives of the company have taken their passports, their food, their bedding - even the toilet paper.

On Monday night, Newshub was there as Police came to the property after the company issued trespass notices against the workers. The men are refusing to leave because they say they've done nothing wrong.

It's led to a standoff between security and union delegates, as they tried to visit Chinese workers holed up at a South Auckland house. There are 23 men staying there - some sleeping in hallways.

"It's a disgrace. It shouldn't be allowed. But until we can find better accommodation, they shouldn't be tossed out of this one," says Unite Union national director Mike Treen.

"It's unfortunate but that's the situation they're in. They have nowhere else to go."

Carpenter Jian Ming Jin told Newshub in some rooms seven or eight workers are living in the same room. Some just sleep on mattresses. It's overcrowded accommodation - for which they pay their employer $150 each a week.

But living in squalor is the least of their troubles - most say they've had no carpentry work in the past five months and some haven't earned a cent.

Jian Ming Jin, a carpenter of 37 years, told Newshub he hasn't worked since August.

"I borrowed the money to pay the agents' fee. I have parents and grandchildren to support," he says.

"I can't bring myself to tell my family what's happened here," one man says. "I have no money. I don't know what to do."

NPL wants the workers out, with their lawyer Nicholas Russell saying "they are unlawfully occupying a building and new accommodation has been found".

But the workers say they won't leave as they can't afford to pay rent elsewhere.

Mr Russell says the reality is "if they come to the country and work dries up, there's not much they can do about it". It also disputes the workers claims - it says minimum wages have been paid.

As for Immigration NZ, it's investigating the agent, Peter Li. It also says that the recruitment company is also cooperating with investigations.

Police told Newshub they're investigating and want to ensure the workers' personal possessions are returned.

Mr Li hasn't responded to requests for comment.

A Givealittle page has been set up to help the workers with basic costs while they try and find new jobs.