Letter from Hon Kris Faafoi

Hi Kris and Geoff,

I am writing to you both in response to the letter from the Minister regarding a group of Chinese construction workers in New Zealand who I believe were lawfully in New Zealand in September 2018 and should be eligible for the pathways to residency visa.
It is not correct to say as the letter does that “a Limited Visa was the most appropriate for these individuals…given that their work visas were no longer valid.”
The workers were originally brought to New Zealand in mid-2018 by Peter Li on behalf of NPL Limited. Peter Li was a recruitment agent of the company for a number of years. The original visas were applied for and issued lawfully.
There appears to have been a falling out between Peter LI and NPL Ltd that adversely impacted the workers. They were not to blame. Their visas said they could work for NPL Ltd.
After they arrived in New Zealand  Peter Li took them to work in other cities and other employers. They had no choice. They could only follow what was demanded of them by Peter Li.
Immigration New Zealand then began an investigation.
Around the beginning of September, all the workers were then offered new NPL visas and brought to Auckland to live together in premises owned by NPL limited. These visas were also lawful visas. Even if the original visas were issued without NPL’s knowledge this was not the case now. Immigration NZ approved the new visas.
All the workers were lawfully in New Zealand at the end of September 2018.
It seems more people started staying at these NPL premises than had been agreed by NPL Limited so the company evicted them over the Xmas New Year period.
This is when Unite got involved.
We reached an agreement with Immigration NZ that the workers could continue as NPL employees or change employer if they could find a better one. We helped a number get new jobs and visas.
We took a legal case against Peter Li and NPL Limited. We intended to argue that Peter Li was the NPL’s legal agent therefore they were responsible for the visas from mid-2018 when they arrived. We reached an agreement with NPL that compensated them for the period from July to September but the company still claimed it was not legally liable for the original contracts.
Immigration NZ then gave the workers they wanted to give evidence in a case against Peter Li and some others the Limited Visa. But they did not need a Limited Visa. They all had lawful visas with New Zealand employers including NPL Limited.
If they had stayed on the visas they had with NPL and other employers they would have been eligible for the pathways residency.
Helping Immigration New Zealand prosecute a case against an alleged Immigration fraudster has cost them this right. That does not seem fair.
Mike Treen

Unite Union

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