Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway promises alternative visas for Chinese workers

Iain Lees-Galloway has promised to help a group of Chinese construction workers get alternative visas as soon as possible so they can start new jobs.

The community has also rallied behind the group, who came to New Zealand in August on the promise of work - but dozens say they haven't picked up their tools once.

The Immigration Minister called Unite Union's Mike Treen himself, offering hope to up to 48 Chinese migrant workers, thousands of dollars out of pocket, jobless and now homeless. 

Police evicted 23 from their accommodation in south Auckland on Monday, but relief is in sight.

"The Minister of Immigration gave me a call and wants to see a solution," Mr Treen told Newshub. 

Mr Lees-Galloway says the priority right now is that "these people are taken care of," adding that their "welfare is my top priority". 

Mr Treen believes Immigration officials would have already been in touch to ensure their paperwork is straight so the workers can apply for alternative visas.

"I know Iain and I know he's a fair man so hopefully we'll get a fair solution," he said. 

The workers, mainly carpenters, signed contracts with National Personnel Limited (NPL) as far back as August.

Newshub has seen offer letters which stipulate at least 30 hours pay per week but many say they haven't seen a cent or picked up their tools since arriving.

Their supporters are rallying: a Givealittle page has raised nearly $6000, there's temporary accommodation, food and clothing's arriving at Unite Union, and even job offers. 

Sam Lu from Stonewood Homes says his suppliers want carpenters now.

NPL denies any wrongdoing and Immigration officials are still investigating, but Mr Lees-Galloway says tacking migrant exploitation - particularly involving labour hire companies - is one of his top priorities.

"People need to know when they come to New Zealand that their rights are going to be upheld, that they're going to get decent wages and they're going to get the job that was promised to them."

Mr Lees-Galloway says, overall, migrant exploitation's on the rise and it's damaging our reputation.


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