11 Jan 2019

Jobs on offer but still no visa fix for Chinese workers

7:19 pm on 11 January 2019

A group of out-of-work Chinese construction workers say even though they've been offered jobs, they are stuck in limbo until they get valid visas.

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Photo: 123RF

The government is working with the Unite union to try and change their visas but it hasn't given the workers any indication about how long that would take.

Last year RNZ reported the group's concerns about a man named Peter Li, who they said they paid tens of thousands of dollars for work visas.

The visas they received meant they could only work for the labour hire company, National Personnel Limited.

However, the promised steady work didn't happen and this week they were trespassed from their temporary accommodation in South Auckland.

Different community groups have been looking after the men since they were kicked out but the workers have to move again after tonight.

Worker Chen Genxiang said they were desperate to find a place to live.

"The Chinese community group offered us accommodation for three days. Now they have their own students moving in, so the place is not available any more.

"We need to find a new place to stay as soon as possible," Mr Chen said.

The workers said a few businesses visited them at the United union office yesterday to offer them jobs and about seven of the workers were given offers from potential employers.

But one of the workers, Li Yanglin, said he was very worried because he must have a new visa to work for a different employer.

"We are happy to have a job offer now, but we're not sure whether Immigration New Zealand can help us to get a new visa, an open work visa. Can the Immigration give us hope?"

Mike Treen from the Unite union said he gave immigration a list of 57 workers who needed help with their visas but he didn't know when the visa problem could be sorted out.

"If they have to get variations done for a new employer, that will be sort of an individual approach that each of them will have to go through. We've had offers of legal help on that, so hopefully that won't be too much of a barrier," he said.

Immigration New Zealand confirmed that it's currently investigating Peter Li. It also said immigration options are available to the workers depending on their personal circumstances.

NPL said it offered alternative accommodation to the employees.

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