Aotearoa/NZ: For Workers’ Control of Migration

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The following is reprinted from our comrades in the Communist Workers’ Group of Aotearoa/New Zealand:

Slaves at sea – workers’ beaten, unpaid or paid slave wages on this ship the Oyang 77: But first – 8 charges of illegal fish dumping were laid

Both the Labour and National led governments have run an immigration system for the exclusive benefit of the capitalist class. NZ immigration policy attracts both capitalists and workers through the categories of investor/entrepreneur and skilled labour lists. It also allows an “export” education industry through student visas. International students pay higher rates of fees than local students, making them an attractive market for (underfunded) schools to improve their funding streams. As we explain below, the immigration system benefits the capitalist class and fails the working class in NZ and internationally. That is why we need a Workers’ Government that enables workers’ control of migration!


For an investment of $1-50 million a migrant can buy NZ residency and even citizenship. The theory behind this is that capitalist will invest in new plant/machinery/technology, or start a new business. This creates a constantly renewing immigrant capitalist class. The current government has relied on booming migration to hold up the otherwise shrinking economy – without migration NZ would be in recession (immigration minister Jonathon Coleman admitted.

Migrants do impact on the housing situation in Auckland in particular, since Auckland is the city where the most land and settle in. This does drive demand for accommodation, and capital rich migrants are in the position where they can buy land and property in this area. Housing shortage within Auckland brought resentment to the surface against people with Chinese sounding surnames. Chinese may represent the latest layer of the capitalist class. Old capital with declining profits, could well be put out by new capital.

The Chinese have significant capital to export, since China is the fastest growing economy in the world. It is not surprising that this is reflected in the immigration dynamics of NZ. However European-origin settlers continue to arrive and the NZ government has even been subsidising migrant investors to super-profit from investments (e.g. Trump supporter and billionaire Peter Thiel). Even the NZ Herald, mouthpiece of the capitalist class in Aotearoa, questioned the actual investment of capital from the migration schemes that let Thiel in.

Skilled labour

Particular skills have been identified as needed in NZ and so are on a list of preferred migrants. The Labour party prefer to champion the skilled labour class of migrants in contrast to National, who outright champion capitalist migrants. However, in the “skilled worker” category, workers (and employers) need to prove, and reprove they are needed in NZ before gaining permanent residence, and jump through the hoops again to gain citizenship.

Let’s pull this skilled labour category apart – many workers in this category are seeking a better life for themselves. Internationally the flow of skilled workers is from the colonies to the imperialist countries. This leaves colonies and semi-colonies with shortages of skilled workers, notably in the health sector doctors, nurses and other health workers, but also in the education sectors and engineering etc. So, the semi-colonies are under-supplied with skilled labour; the poor are under-supplied with health care and education.

The semi-colonies continue to be underdeveloped. Those who manage to obtain an education are likely to migrate to advance their opportunities in an “advanced economy” – which perpetuates uneven development at home and internationally. The rich countries super-exploit migrant workers, e.g. by not paying the true cost of labour – their education. By increasing the skill level required (points) for entry to NZ the bar is raised for only the best educated migrants to enter the country.

All the restrictions of flow of migrations are barriers to the development of a true international working class. (Never mind the free market). The capitalist migration market steals from the poor countries (top skills) to give to the rich countries. For example, the rich countries have the most doctors and the higher life expectancies yet they continue to take doctors from the poor countries where they are needed the most. Any flow the other way, of doctors for charities and emergencies is only short term, and not nearly enough.


International students on visas are permitted to work only 16hrs per week. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation as low-wage workers. Their employers may demand longer hours of work and pay them for only 16hrs on the books and other hours off the books. Employers may demand to hold passports, thus restricting freedom of movement for migrants.

Tourists and visitors are permitted a limited amount of work, however risk dodgy employers, and super-exploitation at longer hours with part cash jobs (under-the-table = black economy). Jobs with full board and lodging but low pay. Academics have told us the level of exploitation in NZ, particularly in construction, hospitality and horticulture.

Migrant workers fear speaking out for labour rights – as they fear it will jeopardise their migration status – and they may be deported. Migrants need full labour rights and automatic full citizenship if there is any breach of their labour rights. Employers who break the law employing migrant workers should be expropriated and all labour costs paid. Not just a deal like that between Masala restaurants and Inland Revenue for $8 million leaving $26 million of assets that could go to their workers.


The Wakefield plan was to pre-sell land to migrants. Wakefield was a convicted fraudster and he reinvented himself with his plan for immigration to NZ. The NZ migrants had to be rich enough to afford passage by ship. Then the richer could also buy land and become capitalists or farmers. But they ran into problems getting enough labourers to work the land, because everyone wanted to work for themselves and profit from their own labour – not to sell their labour to a capitalist.

Migration policy hasn’t really changed. The capitalist class in NZ sell citizenship to capitalists who have capital to invest in NZ. So, the capitalist migrants support the continuation of a capitalist state to continue the protection of their privilege.

The “skilled migrants” scheme is to fill labour shortages. However, this shows how capitalism employs workers who sell their skills for a low wage to get a job. NZ employers are only interested in making profits not paying to train NZ workers.

The immigration policy of New Zealand has a class bias running through it. It is made to meet the needs of capitalists. Unions have been fighting for migrant workers but are limited to the struggle for labour rights. Migrants are used by the capitalist class as a reserve army of labour of unemployed (and prisoners) to drive down wages

We demand:

· Full labour rights for working migrants, students and tourists.

· Expropriate any businesses that exploit migrants under workers’ control (no compensation to the capitalists).

· For full democratic rights for all workers – including the right to vote from the first pay.

· For working class control of immigration! Workers ban on fascists.

· Ban business migrants and capitalist investors.

· Open the borders to political refugees.

In a socialist world planned migration would send skilled migrants to develop the poor nations, to educate and to build health services and infrastructure to improve living standards. For this to happen we need a new communist international and a Transitional Program for socialism to unite the worlds’ workers into one revolutionary force.

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