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6 Apr 2023

Steve Kilgallon, Stuff (New Zealand)

New Zealand: Chinese migrant builders left jobless after paying huge agents’ fees in latest recruitment scams

See all tags Allegations

"Eating instant noodles every day: the penniless Chinese builders left destitute by uncaring employers" 6 April 2023

Migrant advocates say it’s the latest audacious scam: Chinese builders are paying huge premiums to offshore agents for jobs in New Zealand, but finding no work when they arrive. National Correspondent Steve Kilgallon reports.

Qiang* pauses, opens his pack, and pulls out a packet of dried instant noodles. Through his tears, he explains that all he can afford to eat is a packet at lunch, and the same for dinner.

Qiang paid a lot of money to be in New Zealand - about $30,000 - but within three days of his arrival, had been sacked by the construction company which sponsored his visa.

He suspects the company received a sizeable kickback from the Chinese recruitment agent who brought him to New Zealand. “Whenever I think of my situation, I cannot stop the tears,” he says.

He says the agent has visited his wife at home to persuade him to withdraw a grievance he has raised with his New Zealand employer.

Qiang is not alone. Tao* was also sacked within two weeks of arriving in New Zealand by a different construction company after he asked to take two days’ unpaid sick leave after hurting his back on site.

Both men were kicked out of company-organised house shares despite having valid tenancy agreements. [...]