Inquiries by 1 NEWS have revealed mass breaches of employment laws by construction bosses.
A sting by the Labour Inspectorate late last year on four building sites uncovered employers not keeping correct holiday or pay records and other issues.
Four companies – CNZ Homes, Vanguard Construction, MX Construction and GL Siteworks have all been fined, told to clean up their acts, and put on the Ministry of Business (MBIE) stand down list.
That means they can’t hire migrant workers for a minimum of six months.
1 NEWS attempted to contact those companies and only one replied and didn’t want to comment.
But further inquiries revealed the Labour Inspectorate is investigating another 46 companies as a result of those spot checks – and further prosecutions are likely.
Labour Inspector Regional Manager Jeanie Borsboom says most companies want to treat migrant workers the same as others.
"But because migrants don’t know their rights sometimes and don’t know how to complain, unfortunately some companies do take advantage of that," she told 1 NEWS.
First Union manager Dennis Maga, who works with migrant workers, say she’s long been pleading with authorities to investigate construction companies and he’s pleased action was finally being taken.
He believes the problem is much wider.
"Some of the construction companies and some of the labour hire companies are not paying migrants the same as they are paying local workers."
The construction industry needs another 50,000 workers by 2020 – putting even more pressure on employers to rely on migrants.
Masterbuilders chief executive David Kelly says there is no excuse, ever, for workers being exploited.
Fines for breaching minimum standards range from $1000 to $20,000.