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Indonesian welders paid $3/hr

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/12/2016

Immigration New Zealand is reviewing how it issues work visas to foreigners, following a report that exposed four Indonesian welders getting paid as little as $3 an hour at a Napier sawmill.

The workers, installing a boiler and associated machinery, aren't subject to New Zealand's minimum wage laws under their specific work visa.

"We deserve to be treated exactly like the Kiwi worker. We are hard workers," Santoso, one of the welders, told Newshub.

His monthly salary of 8 million Indonesian rupiah worked out to be a bit over $3 an hour.

"During this time, we never, ever have a contract or agreement," he said.

Another welder, Yukis, says he often worked from 8am to 3am the next day.

The men, who were in the country for about nine months, have now returned to Indonesia.

Immigration NZ area manager Darren Calder says the men were employed by an Indonesian company installing the boiler for Napier Pine.

Workers employed by foreign companies in such situations on a specific purpose work visa were not generally covered by New Zealand employment law, he said in a statement to NZ Newswire.

"This means they are not required to be paid the minimum wage as their remuneration is set by their employers in their home country."

A labour inspector and an immigration compliance officer spoke to the four workers during a visit to the company earlier this week, Mr Calder said.

"The immigration investigation is still in progress to determine whether any visa conditions have been breached."

Immigration NZ was reviewing its processes around the issuing of specific purpose visas, he said.

Nearly 16,000 specific purpose work visas were issued in the last financial year, but Mr Calder said that also included business people on secondments, investors exploring opportunities and sports players and professional coaches.

Napier Pine managing director Mukti told Newshub the underpayment was not his company's responsibility but he would ensure the men got paid the minimum wage.

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