20 Dec 2023

Hundreds of migrant workers lose jobs after ELE group calls in receivers

5:56 pm on 20 December 2023

First Union wants immigration rules changed so the affected migrants can get jobs with other accredited construction firms. Photo: Unsplash / Abdul Zreika

A major labour hire and recruitment firm with more than 1000 workers has gone into receivership.

Two specialists from accounting firm Deloitte, David Webb and Robert Campbell, have been appointed receivers for five companies in the ELE group.

"The appointment was made at the request of the companies' director, following efforts to seek additional investment and a sale of the business and/or assets," they said in a statement.

The receivers said they were working to get in touch with all those who were affected and expected to have a better picture on Thursday.

ELE recruited staff in New Zealand and overseas for the building, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors, and also offered refrigerated transport and freight services, through a subsidiary.

The five companies put into receivership were: ELE Holdings Limited, ELE Management Limited, ELE Limited, Tranzport Solutions Limited, and RISQ New Zealand Limited. A sixth company, ELE Security Limited, was not in receivership and was continuing to trade.

In a letter to some customers Campbell wrote: "We are mindful of the many employees whose employment was required to be terminated".

ELE's sole director is Brent Mulholland, who lives in Tauranga, according to Companies Office records. The group had more than 10 offices around the country.

Meanwhile, First Union said around 500 migrant workers were affected by the receivership, and it called on the government to come to the workers' aid.

General secretary Dennis Maga said the affected workers were on temporary visas and it wanted the immigration rules changed to allow them to get jobs with other accredited construction firms.

"This would be a welcoming Christmas gift to these workers, and this move would alleviate their fear of losing jobs while their families struggle in their countries of origin."

He said a review of the construction industry's labour practices was needed. Hundreds of migrant builders had been recruited from overseas but have ended up without jobs, he said.