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Pinoy dairy workers in NZ abused, exploited –study

A study commissioned by the Union Network of Migrants (Unemig) showed that Filipino dairy workers in New Zealand are often abused and exploited, reports said.

A report on Radio New Zealand said 27 Filipino dairy workers in the North and South islands and a few New Zealand workers had shared concerns about health, safety and employment standards

One worker said they did not receive any health and safety training in their first farm and were not given a helmet while riding a motorbike at work.

Another complained of riding a motorbike "with no lights or brakes" for two years, while another worker said they vomited "all the chemicals" they used as they did not receive protective gear while weed spraying

A separate report on New Zealand Herald cited other cases where workers did not earn minimum wage nor receive statutory entitlements, or have worked 20-hour days while using heavy machinery without proper breaks.

Some Filipino workers also had difficulties with the language used in farms and the management practices of their employers.

Former Green Party MP Sue Bradford and University of Auckland senior lecturer Sue Abel, authors of the study, said Filipino workers often have very few choices to escape out from their dire conditions.

"The hesitancy and caution found in the interview process itself only served to confirm the reality of these pressures," the report said.

Poor conditions met by workers, according to the report, may also partly lie with policies of some farm employers and "a government which encourages migration without careful workforce planning."

Bradford recommended a more proactive approach in investigating and prosecuting farms that violate employment laws.

Unemig coordinator Dennis Maga said the study revealed that abuse in the dairy industry was "more widespread and worse" than expected and justified calls to investigate the industry.

A possible solution for this exploitation, he said, was to hold all farms accountable to a standard employment agreement that sets wages at $20.20 per hour, with proper hours, breaks, holidays, and training.

"We have had workers telling us they are on $48,000 per year, but in reality they are paid below the minimum wage if you broke that down to the number of hours they had to work," he told NZ Herald.

NZ Herald noted that there are 1,700 Filipino dairy farm workers in New Zealand. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News