Allegations of foreign truckies being exploited

UNION MAN: First Union national general secretary Dennis Maga was in Gisborne for a stop-work meeting and was impressed with the turnout. Picture by Liam Clayton

Foreign truckies living in Gisborne are allegedly being exploited and the workers union wants people to come forward with more details to help tackle the issue.

First Union national general secretary Dennis Maga, while in Gisborne last week, told The Gisborne Herald the issue was raised at a stop-work meeting here.

“People have been talking about exploitation of migrant workers, especially in the trucking industry. Some employers are using language difference to mislead the workers about their employment agreements. The locals are concerned about that.

“Gisborne locals are embracing them as part of the local community and as brothers and sisters, and feel they should be treated fairly and accordingly.”

Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett said although he was not aware of any issues, the industry would address any matters should evidence of wrongdoing be presented.

“It is always disturbing to hear allegations about exploitation of workers in the trucking industry but we cannot address such allegations without evidence.

“If First Union wants to present a case to us, we are more than happy to address that. However, as an industry body, we are not aware of any exploitation of workers in the Gisborne area.

“It is worth noting that Immigration New Zealand has to accredit companies to employ migrant workers in the trucking industry. There are specific countries where the licensing regime meets the New Zealand licensing requirements and those migrant workers can work here for six months, but after that time have to transfer to a New Zealand licence. Because truck drivers are no longer on the Government’s Essential Skills in Demand List, it is very difficult to get migrant workers in the trucking industry, so numbers are very small.

“It is also important to note that truck driving is a safety-sensitive industry and driver licensing matches that, with different classes of driver licensing according to the vehicles that will be driven. It is unlikely migrant drivers could meet the licensing and safety requirements in New Zealand without adequate English language skills. In fact, many of the migrant drivers here come from countries, including the UK and South Africa, and are proficient in the English language.

“We believe these comments are anecdotal and not reflective of the wider industry. But we’re happy to address any evidence.”

Mr Maga urged anyone effected to come forward.

“This is an issue that was raised with us at a meeting of union members who were concerned about the welfare of other workers. Our union has a proud history of looking after migrant workers and is taking the report seriously. We will conduct an investigation if requested to do so. Employers who exploit migrants should be penalised and banned from employing foreign workers.”

Mr Maga was in Gisborne to address more than 150 members at a stop-work meeting at the Cosmopolitan Club.

“We discussed our impressive union growth. This year we’ve had 4 percent growth. From 28,000, we are now a 29,200-strong union.”

The turnout was evidence there had also been significant union growth here.

“Coming to Gisborne, I’ve not seen that number of members for some time. We are seeing a lot of unionised workers in this region. This is also a recipe to negotiate better pay and conditions for workers here because regardless of where you are you deserve decent work.

“I also wanted to congratulate them about the growth in this region. We’re getting a lot of traction.

“We also discussed our achievements in campaigning for a Living Wage. Even though the Government will be increasing the minimum wage by next year to $18.19 per hour, we’re making sure when we negotiate that it’s not about the minimum wage, it’s about the Living Wage.​”

Foreign truckies living in Gisborne are allegedly being exploited and the workers union wants people to come forward with more details to help tackle the issue.

First Union national general secretary Dennis Maga, while in Gisborne last week, told The Gisborne Herald the issue was raised at a stop-work meeting here.

“People have been talking about exploitation of migrant workers, especially in the trucking industry. Some employers are using language difference to mislead the workers about their employment agreements. The locals are concerned about that.

“Gisborne locals are embracing them as part of the local community and as brothers and sisters, and feel they should be treated fairly and accordingly.”

Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett said although he was not aware of any issues, the industry would address any matters should evidence of wrongdoing be presented.

“It is always disturbing to hear allegations about exploitation of workers in the trucking industry but we cannot address such allegations without evidence.

“If First Union wants to present a case to us, we are more than happy to address that. However, as an industry body, we are not aware of any exploitation of workers in the Gisborne area.

“It is worth noting that Immigration New Zealand has to accredit companies to employ migrant workers in the trucking industry. There are specific countries where the licensing regime meets the New Zealand licensing requirements and those migrant workers can work here for six months, but after that time have to transfer to a New Zealand licence. Because truck drivers are no longer on the Government’s Essential Skills in Demand List, it is very difficult to get migrant workers in the trucking industry, so numbers are very small.

“It is also important to note that truck driving is a safety-sensitive industry and driver licensing matches that, with different classes of driver licensing according to the vehicles that will be driven. It is unlikely migrant drivers could meet the licensing and safety requirements in New Zealand without adequate English language skills. In fact, many of the migrant drivers here come from countries, including the UK and South Africa, and are proficient in the English language.

“We believe these comments are anecdotal and not reflective of the wider industry. But we’re happy to address any evidence.”

Mr Maga urged anyone effected to come forward.

“This is an issue that was raised with us at a meeting of union members who were concerned about the welfare of other workers. Our union has a proud history of looking after migrant workers and is taking the report seriously. We will conduct an investigation if requested to do so. Employers who exploit migrants should be penalised and banned from employing foreign workers.”

Mr Maga was in Gisborne to address more than 150 members at a stop-work meeting at the Cosmopolitan Club.

“We discussed our impressive union growth. This year we’ve had 4 percent growth. From 28,000, we are now a 29,200-strong union.”

The turnout was evidence there had also been significant union growth here.

“Coming to Gisborne, I’ve not seen that number of members for some time. We are seeing a lot of unionised workers in this region. This is also a recipe to negotiate better pay and conditions for workers here because regardless of where you are you deserve decent work.

“I also wanted to congratulate them about the growth in this region. We’re getting a lot of traction.

“We also discussed our achievements in campaigning for a Living Wage. Even though the Government will be increasing the minimum wage by next year to $18.19 per hour, we’re making sure when we negotiate that it’s not about the minimum wage, it’s about the Living Wage.​”

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Are you pleased that New Zealand history will be taught in all schools and kura from 2022?