Labour is calling for stricter labour market testing after an Auckland-based company was given approval to employ 110 Chinese workers to put facades on shop fronts, work unions say New Zealanders can easily do.
Labour's industrial relations spokeswoman Darien Fenton has told Parliament that Immigration New Zealand had granted approval on the basis there were no suitable New Zealanders able to do the work or be trained to do the work.
Fenton later revealed the company was King Facade New Zealand and said the company had only listed the vacancies with Work and Income after it gained approval to bring in the Chinese workers.
''So there wasn't time for Work and Income to train anyone.''
Foreign workers on fixed contractors were cheaper for companies because they didn't have to provide training or pay accumulated entitlements, Fenton said
Both the Council of Trade Unions and the Construction Union had objected to King Facade's application but their concerns had been ignored by the department, she said.
''King Facade have tendered for contract work without having workers available and now they've gone to Immigration NZ to rescue them, to bring in Chinese workers.''
The Northern Amalgamated Workers Union has written to the Government saying claims by King Facade that workers needed three years experience to do the work were a ''joke''.
In the 1970s and 1980s such work was carried out by labourers and people could be trained in a short period of time, the union said.
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy told Parliament he was confident labour-market testing was protecting New Zealand jobs.
''I have been advised by Immigration NZ that it undertakes a variety of labour-market checks, where information from Work and Income, recruitment efforts by the employers and the skills shortage lists are taken into account.''
Consultation was also undertaken with relevant unions, guilds and industry training organisations, he said.
New Zealand required some foreigners to ensure the economy could grow, Guy said.
However, he conceded there were ''always anxieties'' about foreign workers displacing New Zealand workers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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