Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Daniel Vorndran / DXR
Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Daniel Vorndran / DXR

A recent study says Filipino construction workers in New Zealand face low wages and poor living conditions, solely due to their ethnicity.

The study, commissioned by E Tū, a New Zealand trade union that fights for fair pay and work conditions, found that Filipinos in Auckland and Christchurch experience pay discrimination and are treated poorly, NZ Herald reported.

Catriona Maclennan, who conducted the study, said Filipinos are paid less than their Kiwi co-workers. According to Maclennan, local workers are paid up to NZ$35 (US$23) an hour, while Filipinos are paid around NZ$19 an hour. The average pay for construction workers in New Zealand is NZ$21.94 an hour.

Filipinos also face poor and expensive living conditions. According to Maclennan, three of the Filipino workers interviewed shared a house with 10 others and were all paying NZ$150 a week.

Maclennan said many Filipinos are in debt to immigration companies, while others were being overcharged by companies that provide services such as a car or Internet access. Filipinos complained that because of their low pay, they cannot meet official immigration criteria that would entitle them to apply for extended or permanent working visas or residency.

Ron Angel, E Tū industry coordinator for engineering and infrastructure, said that this was the first study to show that Filipino migrant workers are being underpaid for the sole reason of their ethnicity.

“We welcomed these people into New Zealand, but we didn’t look after them,” Angel said.

Angel said there should be government action to ensure new migrant workers are properly supported and are given their rights.

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