'Treated like slaves': Overseas students claim they're underpaid, overworked, threatened

A group of overseas students, who paid thousands to come to New Zealand to complete internships, say they're being "treated like slaves".

The hotel management students are cleaning rooms at a flash hotel and claim they've been underpaid, overworked and, if they complain, threatened with deportation.

The students paid up to $6000 each to Wellington company Internship New Zealand to come here to gain international experience.

They were then employed as housekeepers by cleaning company AHS, which services rooms at the Grand Mercure in Wellington.

View Newshub video here

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Unite needs new Organisers

Unite has vacancies for a permanent  full and/or  part-time Organisers in the Auckland and Otago-Southalnd regions.

The successful applicant(s) will primarily be recruiting and organising workers in the Fast Food sector, although they may also be involved in other sectors that Unite represents from time to time.

We are looking for people with:

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Annual Leave: Time’s Up – Pay it back!

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

Hundreds of millions of dollars are owed to hundreds of thousands of workers and only the top 100 employers are being asked to fix the problem and pay it back.

This should not be acceptable. If it was a worker defrauding a boss or a beneficiary over claiming from WINZ they would be put in jail. This money was taken from workers by employers and or payroll providers who should have known better. When employers are told to pay it back they seem to think it is OK to negotiate how much they should pay back.

Unite National Director Mike Treen speaking to anti-zero hours strike in 2015

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How I got hijacked, kidnapped, tasered, cracked ribs and a fractured foot at the hands of the Israeli military in international waters

By Mike Treen, National Director of Unite Union

The headline of this article tells the end of the story following an attempt by myself and others this past summer to take a Norwegian fishing boat loaded with medical supplies to the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

The only problem we faced was that Israel has maintained an almost complete siege on that territory of two million people for over a decade. Israel allows nothing to go in or out without their authority. What goes in or out has been radically reduced and is often completely arbitrary – like all sieges.

As a consequence, Gaza is in a state of economic collapse with over 50% unemployment – the highest recorded rate in the world.

Gaza has become like an open-air prison for its two-million people. But in many areas the situation is worse for the people there. They cannot receive visitors. They can never leave. Medical treatment is denied.

The skyline of Gaza City from the beach in the Israeli kibbutz of Zikim

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Burger King year long ban highlights massive wage theft problem

Unite union supports the Labour Inspectorate’s enforcement action that has seen Burger King (Antares Restaurants) banned from getting new visas for migrant workers for a year.


The reason for then ban is for paying a salaried manager (and Unite union member) less than the minimum wage: 


“This is a large high profile corporation and shows that this is not just a problem for small restaurants and fruit pickers - it goes right across most sectors and company sizes” said National Secretary Gerard Hehir.

(Burger King has 83 Restaurants and employees over 2,600 staff. It first opened in New Zealand in 1993 and is currently owned by one of the largest private equity firms in the world - New York based Blackstone Group. Group CEO Steve Schwarzman was paid US$786 million in 2017). 

"Migrant workers are the most vulnerable to exploitation because their visa conditions often tie them to one employer. They fear speaking out because if they lose their job, they lose their ability to work in New Zealand. Employers who steal from their employees need to be sent a very clear message. Banning them from employing vulnerable migrant workers is a good start. If an employer is not able to guarantee the most basic minimum conditions allowed by law, they should not be able to hire vulnerable workers."

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2018 Unite Union Conference and AGM

Unite Union will be holding its 2018 National Delegates Conference and Union AGM in Auckland on

Wednesday 10th October and Thursday 11th October 2018

St Columba Centre,

40 Vermont St, Ponsonby


Delegates will be attending from all over the country to participate in training workshops, discussions about the future of unionism and Unite, and to elect Unite's National Executive and officers, the leading body of the union.

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French Unions condemn violent attack on another unionist as second flotilla boat boarded

The following is a release from the French General Confederation of Labour (CGT) who had a member aboard the second  flotilla boat, “FREEDOM”  boarded illegally by Israeli forces in the last few days.


"The CGT protests against acts of piracy by Israeli forces, as well as the arrests of trade unionists in this occasion

During the night of Friday to Saturday, August 4, the FREEDOM, the second boat of the "Freedom Flotilla" was boarded in international waters.

The attackers who carried out an act of piracy were the Israeli special forces, under the command of the Government of Israel.

On the occasion of this arrest, Pascal MAURIERAS, a CGT sailor who was participating in this peaceful humanitarian mission, was violently arrested, beaten and thrown into an Israeli prison.

During the arrest of the first boat, the "Al Awda", it was Mike TREEN, a New Zealand trade unionist from UNITE, a member of NZCTU and the CSI, who was arrested and very violently hit by the attackers causing serious injuries.


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Mike Treen repeatedly tasered by Israeli Occupation Forces, other injured and hospitalised

UPDATE (11:48am 31st July NZ time)   

We have now received a direct report from Mike in Givon Prison.

He was tasered repeatedly by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) while in the wheelhouse of the Al Awda and subsequently tightly handcuffed. He received injuries to his face and head and was bleeding but is now recovering.

Of Mike’s fellow flotilla members one was tasered in the head, a 69 year old female surgeon received a head injury and a senior Canadian passenger was received a foot injury and had to be treated in hospital.

The IOF takeover of the boat conducted by armed and masked soldiers was clearly violent with many passengers & crew assaulted, roughly handled and hit. 

Local civil rights lawyers met with all those detained a few hours ago. All their belongings, including their passports have been seized and not returned, despite promises they would if they co-operated.

Despite KiaOra Gaza contacting the New Zealand Hon. Consul in Tel Aviv requesting assistance we are unaware of any contact, visit or action from the New Zealand Government or its representatives to assist.

(update at 4pm Monday 31st July - The Honorary Consul has now been to see Mike. Winston Peters has responded to the letters sent to him but the Government has taken no specific action apart from alerting the Cairo embassy to Mike's situation).

The next flotilla boat, the “Freedom” continues to approach Gaza.


Previous report (6.15am 31st July NZ time)


Eyewitnesses report that Unite Union leader Mike Treen’s boat was hijacked in a violent raid and that he and the rest of the crew are being held in Givon prison, near Tel Aviv.

Two Israeli citizens who were on board have been charged and released on bail and, contrary to the Israeli military’s claim that the raid on the Al Awda was “without exceptional incident”, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, the boat leader, reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.” 

Mr Regev also reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship, which is very alarming given the extreme violence shown by Israel to past flotillas. We are awaiting information about Mike’s condition, charges he may face and what the Israeli’s intend to do with the remaining 20 flotilla participants they have imprisoned.

The international Freedom Flotilla have engaged local lawyers who are trying to gain access to them.

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New Zealand Union leader attacked and imprisoned by Israeli military

New Zealand Union leader Mike Treen has been attacked and unlawfully detained by the Israeli military this morning and his union,Unite, is calling on our government to demand Israeli authorities release him and the other international campaigners that were aboard the Al Awda this morning when it was raided.

His final radio  message just before the Israeli attack can be heard here: 

“Mike was taking part in a peaceful mission to deliver aid to Gaza and was in international waters when attacked and detained. We understand he has been taken, kidnapped in reality, to the southern Israeli port of Ashod.” said National Secretary Gerard Hehir. 

“We expect the New Zealand government to strongly protest and demand his immediate release, along with his fellow campaigners and the Al Awda so they can deliver the much needed medical aid to the port of Gaza”. 

“Their mission to Gaza posed absolutely no threat to Israel or to Israeli citizens. It is a fishing boat loaded with medicines. This is not about security, it is about Israel treating Gaza as the worlds biggest prison, killing, maiming and kidnapping anyone who even approaches the walls, wires and blockades they have built around Gaza - territory the rest of the world has clearly said is illegally occupied by Israel.”

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Union leader Mike Treen to join ship trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza

Veteran human rights campaigner and union leader, Mike Treen, is about to join the 2018 international Freedom Flotilla determined to challenge Israel’s 11-year inhumane naval blockade of Gaza later this month.

Treen says it is "a great honour to be asked to participate and a chance to deepen solidarity between workers in New Zealand and Palestine.

"We need an international campaign to isolate apartheid Israel in the same way we did against Apartheid South Africa," said Mr Treen. "I see my participation in this trip as the logical continuation and extension to my participation in the Biko Squad against the Springbok Tour of New Zealand."

Mike Treen talks to McDonald's strike against zero hour contracts in 2015

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