30 Sep 2015

Filipino farm workers 'clearly not hardened criminals'

5:09 pm on 30 September 2015

An immigration consultant says many New Zealand farmers don't want to see Filipino workers' visas cancelled, even if they have used fake employment documents.

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Filipino workers in the dairy sector are now under scrutiny after the fake visa documents were revealed. Photo: 123rf.com

Hundreds of Filipino dairy farm workers in this country are under scrutiny, after authorities in the Philippines revealed dozens had visas based on documents with false qualifications and work experience.

Cross Country Recruitment managing director Ben De'Ath said a widespread market had been operating in the Philippines for years, with farms offering false employment certificates to help people get work abroad.

He estimated that 80 percent or more of people who have arrived with Philippines-only experience had exaggerated documents, or would not be able to meet current assessment standards.

Mr De'Ath said many of the Philippine farms were making more money from the certificates than from farming.

But he said most farmers did not want to lose their experienced - and now trained - workers, even if they had used fake documents.

"There's no reports of any other wrong-doing since they've been here, they're clearly not hardened criminals and the on-the-ground perspective is that farmers want these guys to be given another chance."

Mr De'Ath said he was encountering Filipinos workers in tears because their family's future in New Zealand was now at risk.

Earlier this week, Immigration New Zealand confirmed multiple Filipino workers had provided false information, and reports from Manila suggest the workers may have paid $15,000 each for false documents.

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