Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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The employment of migrant workers in the Auckland hospitality industry
Shelagh K Mooney

Last modified: 2018-07-02


Over the last few years, court cases exposing the abuse of migrant workers in parts of the Auckland hospitality industry have featured prominently in the New Zealand media. In a recent disturbing example involving a North Shore restaurant, Judge Nevin Dawson described the work and living conditions as ‘not far removed from modern day slavery’(Radio New Zealand 2018). The persistent and widespread nature of such abuse led the government in 2015 to issue guidelines to protect ‘vulnerable migrant workers in the hospitality sector’(Searle et al. 2015). Common accounts highlight instances of overwork, pay rates of a few dollars a day for some workers, the confiscation of passports and the withholding of wages (see Stringer 2016). These practices tarnish the image of all hospitality employers, not just the few ‘bad apples’, as well as tainting hospitality as a desirable career option, especially for local young people (Mooney 2016; Williamson 2017). This panel will discuss some of the challenges, and rewards, surrounding the employment of migrant workers in hospitality. The aim of the discussion is to open a courageous conversation about what we can do to provide a working environment that will safeguard migrant workers and attract local workers to a fulfilling career choice.

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