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Monday, July 19

Migrants will be hard hit by labour law changes

An extension of the ‘fire-at-will’ law and reduced access to union support could potentially exploit migrant workers and people on work permits, Labour Party Associate Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Dr Ashraf Choudhary says.

“It is already common for migrants to feel discrimination, exclusion and prejudice when they arrive in a new country and enter employment. I do not see how the 90-day-trial and lack of union representation will do anything other than make things worse,” Ashraf Choudhary said.

“Some refugees, particularly, have a fear of authority figures, because they have experienced torture and brutality. As a result they are reluctant to report things. We need to be very mindful of this. This plan may simply add extra pressure on families.

“Newcomers need time to adjust to the environment, language barriers and the demands of their new job. Migration involves profound loss and stress for families,” Ashraf Choudhary said.

Ashraf Choudhary said there is also potential for some employers to exploit international students, who are allowed to work 20 hours a week, by offering them the minimum wage and then getting rid of them when they want to.

“Since becoming the Government, National has introduced the 90 Day fire-at-will law, stripped workers of rights around meal breaks, scrapped the Pay Equity Unit, will soon announce an attack on the Holidays Act, and is now about to remove the right of workers to have access to union representation.

“I urge the government to consult the ethnic and migrant communities before taking workers’ rights away from them. With increasing diversity in our workplaces, it’s important that the views of migrants are taken into account before making decisions like this.”