Immigration New Zealand pressured to give Chinese workers alternative visas

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is under pressure to give alternative visas to a group of Chinese construction workers who have been kicked out of their accommodation and are without work or an income.

The men were brought here to help with Auckland's construction boom - but dozens say they haven't picked up their tools once.

Carpenter Jin Hua Cheng told Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah they were "kicked out on the street by NPL (National Personnel Limited). They rang up the Police to evict us last night".

NPL or National Personnel Limited is the company which many workers signed contracts with.

But the only thing they've got from them lately is a trespass notice and a visit from police who on Tuesday night turned up to the company's accommodation to have them evicted.

Before they came here, they were promised well-paid jobs and offer letters seen by Newshub stipulate at least 30 hours pay a week.

Carpenter Jian Huang says "since the 8th of August last year I haven't received a cent from NPL".

At NPL's offices Newshub was told the company's bosses were "not available". Workers said they'd each been paying $150 dollars a week rent to their employer.

But in a statement the company denied that.

"NPL has not charged or received rent or utility charges from some employees. NPL estimates it's provided $25,000 of free accommodation to these employees," it states.

There is another curious component to this story. It's a person named Peter Li or Wenshan Li who's being investigated by INZ officials.

"Peter Lee is the agent for NPL in China. I gave his agency $40,000 to come here," Mr Huang says.

So Newshub visited Mr Li's home in Auckland. Mr Li's partner didn't want us filming so we left the property. She did however claim that the workers are lying.

But when I asked directly about whether Mr Li had taken thousands of dollars from the workers as part of a fee promising they'd get work here, she refused to answer the question

For now the men are at the offices of Unite Union - getting by on donated food.

"You should not be able to bring people unless you can guarantee them work and there should be a penalty if you don't live up to your promise," argues Unite Union national director Mike Treen.

Many now have nowhere to sleep, although there has been an offer from a local Chinese community group for accommodation tonight in Panmure. They are taking 16 workers. The rest are staying with friends.

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

INZ won't say much about the situation as it's investigating what's happened.

Newshub asked how it was possible so many workers could be brought in from overseas if they end up just sitting around not on the job.

INZ says the company may not have done anything wrong, because if a company has special approval they can bring in workers without having to show evidence of having actual construction contracts.

For now the workers' biggest worry is having no work and the union wants INZ to vary the conditions of their visas so they can take jobs elsewhere.

"They have to front up and help these people - not hinder - help these people get work," Mr Treen says.

They have their work boots and say they're ready, and they've had other employers turn up and take details of the workers with a view to hiring them.

But that all depends of course on workers getting a visa variation.