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Employers who exploit workers should face effective consequences – Human Rights Commission

EEO Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo has called for effective consequences for worker exploitation, and remedies for impacted workers.

Dr Sumeo was responding to today’s release of the review report into administration of the Accredited Employer Worker Scheme (AEWV).

“It is clear that human rights have not been the focus of the scheme, and they need to be,” says Dr Sumeo.

“Exploited and ill-treated workers must have their right to justice upheld and those employers responsible must be held accountable for their actions.”

Dr Sumeo says just stripping an employer of their accredited status is not enough.

“Exploited workers should be entitled to meaningful remedies.”

She reiterated her concern that urgent action is needed to draft modern slavery legislation to address the risks within labour supply chains in New Zealand and internationally.

Dr Sumeo says there is an urgent need to investigate the real harm being done to migrants under the scheme.

“We need to review the entire policy that allows for migrant exploitation, not just the administration of the scheme.

We are concerned that the scale of the problem is unknown and it might be far more than a few bad apples.

The current policy settings are allowing significant migrant exploitation and are contributing to the modern slavery in NZ.”

The review proposes some useful bureaucratic changes, but they will not address migrant exploitation in the AEWV scheme.

“We want any employment scheme that brings migrant workers to Aotearoa to be sustainable and mutually beneficial while protecting, respecting, and supporting the realisation of human rights for all workers.”

 

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