Filipino worker who came to Christchurch for a better life but alleges abuse, exploitation speaks out

A Filipino construction worker who came to Christchurch for a better life says he's been bullied, kicked in the back and hit in the head at work.

It comes after a devastating report released this week by E Tū Union, found Filipino construction workers brought in from overseas for jobs in Auckland and Christchurch are frequently being exploited.

The worker, who asked for us not to use his real name, said relaxing iron-tight visa rules is the only way to stop the exploitation of his fellow countrymen.

The man, who RNZ will call Juan, relocated to New Zealand in 2015 for a better life.

The joiner turned builder, came from a building site in Qatar on the recommendation of a Filipino friend who said his boss was looking for people to work.

"First my impression of New Zealand was ... it was a better place to come to and work," he said.

While he was happy with his pay of $24 an hour - far below the industry standard - the expectations put on him were gruelling, Juan said.

Being told to complete eight hours worth of work in four hours was common, he said.

Six months later, he and six co-workers were made redundant.

Desperate for a new job to enable him to send money home to his family, he accepted a new role at a small family-owned joinery firm for $21 an hour.

The first year was good, but then things went downhill, Juan said.

"Sometimes if they are not in a bad mood they would call me names, I've been called an idiot, stupid," he said.

"Sometimes I have been told I should be ashamed of myself."

"I have been hit in the back of my head and I've been kicked in the butt twice."

Juan said he was once again subjected to unrealistic work demands - all for $21 an hour.

Juan said in the second year of the job his employer stopped giving him payslips, saying he did not need them.

After almost three years in New Zealand, Juan transferred to another job - where he works now.

He only started this job to support his family back home, he said.

"It's for the opportunity ... I still need to provide for my [wife and two] daughters," he said.

"It's difficult because I've been working overseas for 16 years and I go home to visit them every two, three years ... most of my life is spent overseas and I don't get to see them.

"I can't afford to go home at Christmas because I can't afford the ticket."

Juan thinks the rules need to change so skilled migrants do not need to rely on employers to sponsor their work visa.

Current skilled migrant visa rules require your employer to fill in a form as part of your application - this is called an 'Employer Supplementary Form'.

Immigration minister, Iain Lees-Galloway said he was hearing stories like Juan's more often than he was comfortable with.

"That's why the government is about to embark on a piece of work that will look at all of our immigration settings, what opportunities there are for exploitation in our immigration system, and to take whatever steps we need to eliminate those," he said.

Building and Construction, and Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa said she was also worried.

"We are aware of this issue and we are taking it very seriously," she said.

"The government is currently working on a Cabinet paper that deals with the exploitation of migrant workers. This relates to accreditation of labour hire companies operating in the construction sector.

"Migrant workers make an important contribution to the building and construction workforce, and they must be treated fairly while working in New Zealand." 

But Juan said because his work visa tethered him to his employer his only option was to stay quiet.

rnz.co.nz

A Filipino worker at a construction site in Christchurch
Frank Film.



'My god she can run' - woman at centre of hilarious Kawakawa dog escape video says Lily is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame

A Bay of Islands woman told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp she is "never going to live this down" after footage of her rescue dog Lily dragging a bakery's flag down the main street of Kawakawa went viral around the globe.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 500,000 times since it was posted to Facebook last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

But the Basset Hound received a fright and bolted despite being tied to a large Coca-Cola flag forcing Lucie to give chase.

"For an animal with just little legs, my god she can run," Lucie told Seven Sharp.

Lily, Lucie and the rogue flag brought Kawakawa's State Highway 1 strip to a standstill, the whole escapade captured on CCTV.

"My partner owns a local CCTV company I got to the office and I told him what had happened.

"He didn't tell me he'd done it, but he edited footage and put the music on and uploaded it to Facebook and tagged me in it.

"I knew it was trouble when basically by the time we'd gone to bed last night it had hit 100,000 views," Lucie said.

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

Lucie does see the funny side of events however.

"They say every dog has their day, so I guess Lily is enjoying her 15 mins of fame." 

Lily made a run for it when owner Lucie Green stopped at a shop in the Northland town. Source: Seven Sharp

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Tracking down New Plymouth youth MP candidates after Andrew Little's 'hip' appeal

Labour MP Andrew Little released a tongue in cheek video encouraging young people from New Plymouth to get involved in politics today.

The video inspired TVNZ1's Seven Sharp to travel to Mr Little's old school to find the perfect candidate for its new youth MP.

Judge for yourself if New Plymouth Boys' High students Thomas Foy and Jarrod Wilson have what it takes in the video above.

Tamati Rimene-Sproat is on the case after the Labour MP's piece of political theatre. Source: Seven Sharp

TODAY'S
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Watch: Take a tour inside Kate Sheppard’s former house where suffragists worked to get women the right to vote

Suffragist Kate Sheppard's old house in Christchurch goes up for auction next month - so Seven Sharp host Hilary Barry took a tour.

Ms Sheppard was instrumental in gaining New Zealand women the right to vote in 1893. She carried out important work for the suffrage movement in the house during the late 19th Century.

Today saw celebrations around the country marking 125 years since women gained the right to vote in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern has indicated the Government is interested in buying the house for the nation. It's expected to fetch in excess of $3 million when it goes under the hammer on October 17.

Hilary Barry met with the home's current owner Julia Burbury who showed her around the dwelling set on one acre of gardens.

The house has a category one heritage listing.

The piece of New Zealand history in Christchurch, worth more than $3 million, is up for auction. Source: Seven Sharp


Mum distraught as son turned away from Hutt Valley High School because he didn't have permanent address

Being homeless has become an obstacle for one mother wanting to give her child an education.

Helen Taitapanui and her son were turned away from Hutt Valley High School last week because they don't have a permanent residential address.

Ms Taitapanui, is currently battling cancer and lives in a motel with her teenage son while they wait for a permanent home.

"We've got to be glad that we've got that when we know that a lot of our families are out there living in cars," Ms Taitapanui told 1 NEWS.

However, this was a problem when she tried to enrol her son at a local school.

"The response was it's against their policy to register children living out of a motel. you had to have a residential address," Ms Taitapanui said.

She complained to the Ministry of Education and shortly after Hutt Valley High School reversed its decision.

Ms Taitapanui says her son's excited about going back to school.

"I know once he steps back into the realm of education he'll be well and truly away."

She hopes by speaking out, another unnecessary obstacle will be removed for the homeless.

Being homeless threw up an unexpected obstacle for a mum wanting to educate her child. Source: 1 NEWS