Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse doubts Chinese workers are covered by New Zealand laws (File)
Labour is urging the Government to close a legal loophole that’s allowing a Chinese company to avoid New Zealand’s employment laws.
The company, CNR Dalian Locomotives, is stripping asbestos from KiwiRail’s trains under a warranty agreement.
It has brought its own engineers to New Zealand and they’re working at KiwiRail’s yard in Lower Hutt.
Labour, and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, believe they’re being paid less than the minimum wage. That hasn’t been proved because the company is refusing to hand over pay sheets to inspectors.
Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse doubts the workers are covered by New Zealand laws.
“They are employed by a foreign company, they are under employment agreements governed by Chinese law,” he told Parliament yesterday.
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment concluded it was unlikely that New Zealand employment law applies.”
Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway says Mr Woodhouse must revoke the work visas issued to the Chinese engineers.
“It is simply not right that overseas companies can win a tender for work in this country and bring in temporary workers who are exempt from our labour laws,” he said.
“New Zealanders expect that when people work on New Zealand soil, they are employed under our laws.”