Two unions in New Zealand have given a representation with more than 15,000 signatures, collected both online and at community events, to two MPs – Labour’s MP Marja Lubeck and Green’s MP Ricardo Menéndez.
According to RNZ, Unite Union and the Migrant Workers Association are calling for the New Zealand government to give permanent residency to long-term migrant workers and over-stayers in the country.
Mike Treen, Advocate of the Unite Union, told RNZ that the petition calls on the government to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to fix problems associated with the country’s migration system.
“Pre-Covid, New Zealand had over 300,000 people here on temporary work visas. But many of these visa holders had been sold a promise, that they would get residency eventually, that New Zealand had failed to follow through on. In fact, in the last three years it has been made much more difficult.”
Anu Kaloti, President of the Migrant Workers Association, told RNZ that migrant workers’ visas should be detached from a single employer to prevent exploitation.
“We know that we have a government in place that has an international reputation and image of being very kind and compassionate, so we just request that the migrants are also given a small percentage of that compassion.”
Green MP and immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March said that the immigration minister should take some immediate action.
“With the powers that the minister is being granted as a result of the immigration Covid-19 response Bill, he should recognise that the pandemic is still raging and our migrant communities need support to create a pathway to residency program, so our migrant communities can fully participate in society.”
While, Labour MP Marja Lubeck who also chairs the Education and Workforce Select Committee of Parliament was of the opinion that it was not an easy answer as whether to grant everyone residency.
“You really have to look across the board, and the context, to also acknowledge that there are so many issues that have arisen because of the fact that there was so much exploitation, so I do believe that there are multiple things that need to be considered.”