Exploitation of nurses in New Zealand continues - 1 Apr 2008[off-topic]
03/11/2008 | 05:24 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Filipino professionals,
particularly nurses planning to migrate and work in New Zealand are
warned to carefully study the contracts they are entering into so they
would not be added to the increasing number of Filipinos being abused
Dennis Maga, project coordinator of Employment Relation
Education (ERE) in NZ, said his group has been receiving reports about
Filipinos falling victims to recruiters who switch or substitute
contracts and charge exorbitant fees.
The New Zealand Nurses Organization has also issued a
warning through its website about exploitative employment and
immigration practices that many Filipino nurses have experienced.
“Some international agencies charge exorbitant rates to
complete the necessary immigration and registration requirements. Other
dubious practices by immigration agencies are withholding personal
documents including passports; pressuring nurses to sign up for hire
purchase agreements soon after arrival; arranging deductions from
wages; and fostering excessive dependency of nurses on immigration
agents for accommodation and childcare," the NZNO warned.
“Filipino nurses working in aged care facilities are
particularly vulnerable. Nurses working in these facilities are more at
risk because of the acute nursing shortages, the lack of human resource
policies, and because nurses are more likely to work in isolation," the
NZNO further said.
Recently, New Zealand Herald reported about the flight
of Filipino nurses said to be living in “slave labor" conditions in
different rest homes in NZ.
The nurses were allegedly underpaid, had fallen victims to loan sharks
and accused of not complying with contracts.
Maga, who is currently connected with NZNO, a
40,000-strong nurses union, said he was requested by the group to
investigate the condition of Filipino nurses working in NZ.
“Gusto rin kasi nilang mabigyan ng warning ang ating
mga kababayan kung sakaling mag-aapply sila dito sa New Zealand," Maga
said in an email to GMANews.TV.
According to him, the New Zealand Council of Trade
Union (NZCTU), a trade union with 400,000 members from different
affiliated units, had also asked him to do a research and investigate
the cases of exploited Filipino migrants.
“At itong issue nga ng Filipino nurses is hotcake here," Maga said.
In the New Zealand Herald report, it said that Filipino
nurses were brought in to NZ on student visas by private English
language schools and trained solely for aged care instead of doing
bridging courses to become registered nurses.
Most of the victims, the report said, are forced to
complete their contracts because of a clause imposing a penalty of
NZ$2,000 if they pre-terminate.
Maga said many Filipino nurses and caregivers owe their recruiters and employers an average of $7,000 to $8,000.
The report said a Filipino nurse from Wellington
borrowed $9,000 from a local agency to pay for the nursing competency
assessment required for NZ registration. This includes accommodation
for the two-month assessment and a service fee for finding a job.
According to the report, the interest rate was four percent a month, payable out of her wages in her first year at work.
There is also a Filipino nurse who borrowed $5,125 from
another recruitment agency in the Philippines and the amount paid back
after six months was $9,941.
Another registered nurse in the Philippines paid
$15,534 to an agent who placed her into a 12-week aged care education
course, which qualified her to work as a caregiver but not as a nurse.
The nurse is said to earn $14 an hour at a healthcare home.
The New Zealand Herald also reported about six Filipino
professionals (two nurses, two dentists and two accountants) who were
brought to NZ by a Filipino recruiter who promised them jobs, but
placed in an accommodation that looked like a “dog house" behind the
recruiter’s residence in Mt. Wellington.
Maga said his group is now collating all information
regarding the situation of Filipinos before elevating the issue to the
Department of Labor and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.
Other Filipino migrant organizations in New Zealand are
helping prepare a list of recruitment agencies reported to be abusing
Filipino migrant workers.
Last December, the Labor department has issued a
warning to Filipinos seeking jobs in New Zealand against recruiters
collecting excessive fees from applicants. - Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV