PETALING JAYA: While Malaysia is rounding up illegal migrant workers, a large number of its own nationals were recently found working unlawfully in New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced last week that almost 200 illegal construction workers from Malaysia were deported or stopped from entering the country over the past six months.
About 105 of them had been living unlawfully in New Zealand for an average of five years, with one man found to have been in the country for two decades. Another 85 were stopped from entering.
They were detected during the department’s investigative sweep, dubbed Operation Spectrum, which started in May last year.
Alistair Murray, INZ’s area manager for compliance and investigations, was reported by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) on Saturday as saying that the workers were hired by third-tier subcontractors.
There had thus avoided being noticed by the developers and site managers of the construction projects where they worked.
He said they were paid between NZ$20 (RM57) and NZ$40 (RM115) an hour in cash.
According to RNZ, Operation Spectrum also found 15 people who were previously deported but had managed to enter the country again using different names.
RNZ also quoted Dennis Maga, general secretary of national trade organisation First Union, as saying that immigrant labourers were exploited by hiring companies that brought them in because they were cheaper than the locals.
“Some of these labour-hire companies are consciously targeting foreign workers who are willing to be paid less. They are basically victims of exploitation.
“We are also worried about their health and safety.”
Murray said New Zealand’s border security was being constantly upgraded.
“People can be picked up by their biometric information and vigilant visa services officers who process applications, ” he said.