Immigration rules must focus on workers’ rights, not just cater to businesses’ needs

The Green Party welcomes the Government’s decision to remove specific qualification requirements to enable more skilled chefs to come to Aotearoa, and calls for more action to improve working conditions for everyone who works in hospitality.

“Our migrant chefs are part of the fabric of rich cuisine in Aotearoa. They bring their culture and experiences, and the previous immigration settings did not reflect this by excluding chefs without very specific qualifications,” Green Party immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menendez March said.

“The Government’s immigration changes better recognise the diverse backgrounds chefs have and will see more migrants’ contributions treated with respect, but more needs to be done to ensure the rights of all hospitality workers are upheld.

“As long as visas remain tied to single employers, chefs and other migrants remain at risk of exploitation by employers. We know from our inquiry into migrant exploitation that these sorts of arrangements can result in conditions of modern day slavery.

“Hospitality is a precarious industry and the Government must take more action to improve the working conditions of hospitality workers across the board. Fair pay agreements, further minimum wage increases, default opt-out union membership, and legislation to end wage theft can all play a role to improve the conditions of hospitality workers.

“The Government needs to listen closer to the experiences of migrant workers when making decisions, instead of prioritising the needs of businesses. Migrants are more than economic units to support business owners to make a profit. Immigration settings must help ensure workers are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

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