In 2013, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) commenced a programme of research on vulnerable temporary migrant workers. The first phase involved a review of New Zealand and international literature on the vulnerability of temporary migrant workers (Yuan, Cain and Spoonley, 2014) and an analysis of existing data sources.
The second phase focused on temporary migrants in the Canterbury construction sector and is the subject of this report. This report is based on semi-structured interviews with key informants from government agencies, businesses, and other organisations including nongovernment organisations and community advocates. It brings these interviews together with analysis of administrative data to better understand the nature and extent of migrant vulnerability in the construction industry in Canterbury and effective interventions to address the issues and reduce exploitative practices in the industry. It is important to note that this phase of the research did not include interviews with migrants.
The research shows rapid growth in Filipino migrants working in the Canterbury construction industry. While it is difficult to determine the extent of exploitative practices, the research shows that some migrants were experiencing exploitative situations. Most commonly mentioned were the excessive fees paid to recruitment agencies, but other breaches of employment standards and poor employment practices were evident. Workers particularly vulnerable to exploitative practices were Filipino migrants and those working for labour hire companies and small businesses.