Immigrants have equal rights at Annies
The union representative for redundant workers at Annies fruit bar factory in Grovetown has reported resentment from some Kiwis who lost jobs ahead of overseas workers on temporary visas.
Bill Watt of the New Zealand Meatworkers and Related Trades Union said overseas workers, especially from Brazil, made up a high proportion of the workforce at Annies, near Blenheim.
Companies had to go through quite a process to bring in workers, including showing there were not enough New Zealanders with sufficient skills to do the job, he said.
The union accepted that once legally employed, immigrant workers had the same right to employment as New Zealanders.
"However this can create frustration," Mr Watt said.
The union was working with receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers towards a constructive outcome for its members, including some from overseas, who made up about 30 per cent of the Annies workforce.
John Fisk of PricewaterhouseCoopers said nationality was not considered when selecting 30 of 53 staff who lost jobs on Friday and over the weekend.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said redundancy law did not include anything specific to nationality. Employers had to follow a fair process.
Redundant workers from overseas should contact the ministry as soon as they received letters to apply for a variation on visa conditions.
The ministry would look at situations case-by-case, considering factors such as how much time was left on their visas, she said.
Annies has a long history of helping overseas people gain work visas by offering them employment. Owners Annie and Graeme Giles' connection with Brazil includes basing a dance studio at the factory which often employs dance tutors from the country.
- The Marlborough Express