Labour: Jobs for Kiwis over migrants

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Last updated 13:20 18/10/2012
david shearer
Labour leader David Shearer

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Labour is pushing for a higher hurdle to be put in front of migrant workers to give unemployed Kiwis top priority for jobs.

Speaking at a Working Men's Club in Christchurch today, leader David Shearer said Labour would make employers prove they had engaged with Work and Income and Industry Training organisations ''to give Kiwis the first crack at jobs before bringing in overseas workers''.

The party would also require Immigration NZ to consider the competitive impact, particularly on wages and conditions, when it considered an application to bring in temporary workers.

''It's estimated that 30,000 workers will be needed for the (Christchurch) rebuild - half are likely to come from overseas,'' Shearer said.

''Migrant labour is an important part of our economy, but given there are 162,000 kiwis looking for work, we must give them priority.

''I want to be confident the rebuild isn't used as an opportunity to bring in workers prepared to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week for minimum wages simply to undercut competitors.''

Starting in the construction sector, Labour would also impose a ''one in a million'' condition on companies that won significant government contracts, forcing them to take on one apprentice for every $1m of investment.

The 200 government agencies spent a total of $30b a year on goods, services and infrastructure every year.

He pointed to the loss of contracts at Dunedin's Hillside Workshop to Chinese train carriage makers, asking: ''Why can't we be patriotic and get in behind NZ companies?''.

United States President Barack Obama had brought in a rule that for stimulus projects a foreign company must be 25 per cent cheaper to win a contract against a US company.

Labour would require government agencies to contract to local firms wherever possible and to undertake a wider economic analysis of major contracts to ensure they delivered the best price and quality as well as maximum benefit to the economy.

Other measures would require employers to train migrant labour ''where appropriate'', and employers would receive a payment equivalent to the dole if they took on an unemployed person as an apprentice.

With 84,000 young people neither in work or education this had to be a priority.

Shearer said the Christchurch rebuild was a chance to provide Kiwis with decent jobs and equip young people with world-class skills.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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