Desperate plea to accommodate Chinese workers evicted and allegedly left without pay

A union boss is pleading for help from the public, after a group of migrant workers were evicted after allegedly being left without pay or work.

Mike Treen, Unite Union's national director, is calling for help providing accommodation to 23 Chinese workers brought to New Zealand to help with Auckland's construction boom.

The men were part of a group of 48 who signed contracts with recruitment firm National Personnel Limited (NPL), after they say they were brought to the country by another man, Peter Li, for between $40,000 and $55,000.

But they were issued trespass notices and claim representatives from the firm have taken their passports, their food, their bedding, and even their toilet paper.

After a discussion with police over the legitimacy of the attempted eviction, Mr Treen said the men left the property when police insisted the eviction should go ahead.

NPL's lawyer, Nicholas Russell, said the eviction was justified as the workers were "unlawfully occupying a building and new accommodation has been found".

However, the group say they can't afford to pay for that or for rent elsewhere, and Mr Treen is appealing to the public for help in accommodating members of the group.

"We will be asking people in the public, who may have some sympathy, to maybe help out," he said.

On Tuesday evening, the workers stayed in emergency accommodation at a Glen Innes community centre and had their possessions returned to them by police.

"We're going to go down there and deliver a letter of protest to ask them to just be a little human and humane."

While Mr Russell said: "if [workers] come to the country and work dries up, there's not much they can do about it" and NPL says minimum wages were paid, Mr Treen said the company failed to provide them proper work.

"It was a promise of fulltime work and a guarantee of a minimum number of hours a week - at least 30 or 40 hours a week," said Mr Treen.

"The long-term solution is to allow these people to get work. There is work to be had in New Zealand. Construction workers are needed."

He said without unions like Unite, there would be no one to look after the workers.

Immigration NZ is investigating Mr Li, and the recruitment firm is cooperating with inquiries.