Migrant staff upset about redundancies

CECILE MEIER
Last updated 08:51 02/07/2014

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Seven migrant workers are upset after large building company Buildtech made them redundant less than half-way through their three-year contract to work in the rebuild.

They also raise concerns about the accommodation provided by the company.

Buildtech confirmed yesterday it had made five Filipino staff redundant as the company was reshaping its staffing. It also had not extended two employees' contracts beyond their 90-day trial period.

The company said its work was changing from mainly under-cap insurance repairs to over-cap repairs and rebuilds.

One of the affected staff, speaking anonymously, said he was upset that his contract had ended so soon.

He said most workers had paid fees of about $8000 back in the Philippines to secure a visa and a three-year contract.

"We don't understand why they gave us a redundancy after less than one year," he said.

He said he could see Buildtech's advertisements for tradesmen: "I'm confused about that."

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) construction organiser Paul Johnston said he could not understand how Buildtech could make migrants redundant before the end of their contract while still hiring overseas.

"They shouldn't be allowed to hire any more migrants if they make them redundant."

"Migrants leave their family behind and get into debt to secure jobs here."

Buildtech director Israel Cooper said the technical requirements of the new work demanded a different set of skills.

The five migrants who had been made redundant had been with the company for from seven to 16 months.

The restructure had followed a three- month review. The company was helping affected staff to find new jobs within the Christchurch rebuild.

Six of seven staff had already received other offers of employment.

Buildtech migrant staff also told The Press they were unhappy about the accommodation Buildtech provided.

Cooper said workers could choose their own accommodation.

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- The Press

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