Agents ‘trick’ nurses into signing bonds

By Michelle Robinson –
Filipino nurses are being lured to New Zealand only to end up bonded in caregiving roles at rest homes, the national nurses’ organisation says.

More than a quarter of the 46,000 nurses represented by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation were trained overseas, with Filipinos the largest ethnic group.

But a number had arrived under false pretences, researcher Dr Leonie Walker said.

“Some employers know they’re getting people with three or four years of training, but they’re paying them as caregivers. It’s largely the aged-care sector, which is a problem. There aren’t the ratios of nurses and registered caregivers that we’d like,” Walker said.

Some staff were given cultural and dementia care training, and were then bonded into two-year contracts to repay their training costs. Walker said it was little better than people trafficking.

“If your definition of trafficking is being tricked into believing you will find work as a nurse, being forced to sign a form on the tarmac and being bonded for up to two years, then yes, some were.”

Walker said the nurses organisation worked to get its members out of bonded contracts and into other jobs they were qualified for.

Tales of exploitation among the Filipino community were rife, a spokeswoman from settlement support organisation Migrante said. Mely Seria said she heard many stories of immigration agencies promising nurses in the Philippines jobs, and charging exorbitant sums as agency fees.

One nurse helped by Migrante to find work found herself living in deplorable circumstances after arriving in New Zealand last month. The nurse, who did not want to be named, told the Sunday Star-Times she spent most of her savings on agency fees and a flat, which she shared with four others, after not being able to find work.

She spent $10,000 applying for a student visa through a New Zealand company so she could study nurse management, and take an English language course.

But she was later told to take a business course instead, so she would have a better chance of finding work and enabling her husband and son to enter the country.

She said she was also told she would be helped to find work, but ended up doing it on her own. She paid $100 and was put up in accommodation in a central Auckland apartment shared with four others. The group was moved around to various rooms.

“I don’t have my own bed, I sleep with my friends in the living room on the floor. I’ve been using my pocket money from home, now it’s almost gone.” She is set to start a 20-hour week at an Auckland hospital, so she can pay for her studies and accommodation.


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