WINSTON PETERS: Crooked bosses won’t be losing any sleep over new law

Crooked bosses won’t be losing any sleep over new law

The claim could be made that the National Party lives in another world.

If you believe National, there is no housing crisis in Auckland. We have people living in cars and under bridges; families huddling together in garages; young Kiwis abandoning all hope of owning their own homes.

But no, according to National, there’s no housing crisis.

Nor, if you believe them, is there any widespread exploitation of migrant workers - even though hardly a day goes by without another story emerging of foreign workers getting ripped off by their bosses, often people from their own country.

Two months ago Auckland University academic Dr Christina Stringer confirmed what is going on in a report titled: Worker Exploitation in New Zealand: A Troubled Landscape.

She interviewed 105 workers and concluded migrant worker exploitation was widespread in New Zealand, with much of it remaining hidden.

“The findings of this report, which highlight and uncover areas of significant concern, deserve urgent attention,” she said.

Perhaps her report prodded National and Mr. Woodhouse into action, to be seen to be doing something.

This week they unveiled a new law supposedly getting tough with rogue bosses who exploit overseas workers.

From April 1, employers who break the rules could be banned from hiring migrant workers from between six months and two years.

But just how serious is Mr. Woodhouse and the government?

Mr. Woodhouse said the new law would be more about prevention, rather than prosecution.

That suggests a lot of warnings will be given.

Also, if the government was really serious about cleaning up worker exploitation and enacting their new law – why didn’t Mr. Woodhouse announce an increase in staff and resources for the Labour Inspectorate at the same time?

The inspectorate has the job checking businesses and their compliance.

With only 58 for the whole country, how on earth can inspectors do that job?

Unscrupulous employers have little to worry about.

In her study, Dr Stringer said non-compliance with existing employment legislation was common.