Outrage over visa extensions for Rugby World Cup

Source: TVNZ – One News

EXCLUSIVE: A policy change means New Zealanders wanting to get a job during the Rugby World Cup will now face more competition from migrant workers.

ONE News has found that Immigration New Zealand has been encouraging migrants to take jobs created from the tournament.

Usually when someone applies to work in New Zealand, and their job offer does not specify an end date, they are given a 12 month visa.

But immigration officials have been told to make sure visas for low skilled jobs in hospitality and accommodation last until three weeks after the Rugby World Cup ends in October.

Since September last year, unskilled, English speaking workers have been given no-questions asked extended visas.

Immigration New Zealand will also stop doing what it calls ‘labour market checks’ in the coming months if there is still a perceived labour shortage. That means it will stop checking whether there is anyone in New Zealand qualified to do the jobs foreigners are applying to do.

Service and Food Workers Union Industry Leader Len Richards is outraged by the move, saying there is no need for overseas labour.

“There’s over a quarter of our young people who don’t have work, specifically Pacific Island, Maori, young people,” Richards said.

“You would think that’s the sort of people, the young New Zealanders, who should be the face of the Rugby World Cup.”

Immigration New Zealand refused to talk to ONE News on camera, but released a statement saying the visa extensions were to make sure employers would not be disadvantaged by staff having to leave work before the Cup.

But the department admitted the workforce could have coped with the demand, as the number of tourists will still be less than during the peak summer season.

Alpha Recruitment manager Colin Mathieson says in some hospitality and accommodation roles, he receives between 100 and 200 applicants.

But he says overseas workers are often an employers’ first choice.

“Generally when they come here they are well prepared they tend to be more go-getter because they’ve gone through more to get here and they’re in demand,” he said.

Cantabrian Gloria Sharplin, whose job for the event fell through because of the quake, says she is upset by the move.

“I look around and see all my friends finding it really hard to get jobs,” Sharplin told ONE News.

“If we’re not going to be given those jobs then how is that building our nation?”

Immigration New Zealand also wanted to extend visas for working holidays, but decided against it as it would require a change to government policy.

Instead the government department will be marketing working holiday schemes to English-speaking migrants, encouraging them to coincide their holiday with the event.

The Reserve Bank has projected the event will pump $700 million into the economy.