JOINT RELEASE TO THE MEDIA: Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) and Trade Union Migrant Network (UNEMIG)
Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) and the Union Network for Migration (UNEMIG) have welcomed the Government’s decision to extend emergency benefits to temporary visa holders, but say there is no point in denying access to supplementary assistance. .
“Extending emergency benefits to temporary visa holders, migrants, people on work visas, and struggling students was the right thing to do, however, we are concerned that by denying access to supplemental assistance, the government is effectively setting emergency benefits at a lower rate than core benefits, which we all know are not enough to live on, “said Brooke Stanley Pao, coordinator of Auckland Action Against Poverty.
“Migrant workers do not have access to cheaper food or accommodation than anyone else; the hardships are the hardships, regardless of their visa status,” said UNEMIG spokesman Mandeep Bela.
“Denying temporary visa holders access to supplemental assistance is an advantage for payday lenders and those in the business of exploiting migrant workers, as workers will continue to seek income in the face of desperation.”
Bela also suggested that the plan would probably have to be expanded.
“The WINZ and INZ systems have not been designed side by side, and many migrants are likely to have long waiting periods before their visa applications are granted.”
“Industries that are crying out for workers will be looking for workers well beyond next year than at the end of February. Workers and employers alike will benefit from the certainty of knowing that this scheme will be extended, to ensure that labor shortages can be reliably filled. “
Stanley Pao also suggested that migrant workers will experience difficulties navigating the WINZ system, underscoring the need for welfare reform.
“The Covid-19 wage subsidy was successful because it operated with a high-trust model; it is time we extended the same high-trust model to people experiencing material difficulties and trying to access benefits, whether local or migrant.” Stanley Pao said.
“All the international evidence suggests that secure income is a key part of the public safety landscape to beat Covid-19, and restricting supplementary assistance for migrant workers runs counter to that evidence.”
“This is crucial to maximize the effectiveness of this decision and ensure that migrant workers can be reassigned to fill our current labor shortage.”