25 Fijian Bus Drivers Face Deportation From New Zealand

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After filling job shortages, drivers told they are no longer needed

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 4, 2013) – Twenty-five Fijian bus drivers employed by bus company Go Wellington are facing deportation after working in the New Zealand city for the past six years.

The group were granted annual work visas and employed by NZ Bus from 2006 when bus driving was listed on Immigration New Zealand's skills shortage list.

According to The Dominion Post, Immigration NZ is refusing to renew the visas because the shortage no longer exists.

The Fijian Indian men brought their families with them, and had proved themselves to be honest, hard-working and law-abiding citizens, Tramways Union Wellington branch president Evan Keay said.

"It really does appear to be a case of blatant exploitation. These workers and their families were encouraged to come here. They've been used to fill gaps and bolster the New Zealand economy," he said. "Now, because it no longer suits government policy, they are being systematically ejected from this country."

Immigration NZ general manager Nicola Hogg said bus drivers could be granted only one-year work visas under the essential skills policy as in Wellington and Auckland there were now New Zealanders available to work as bus drivers.

"The Fijian bus drivers do not have a pathway to residence. All of them have been granted additional visas of up to 12 months. This step has been taken to give the drivers sufficient time to organize their affairs and arrange their return home."

The work permit for the first member of the group expired last month. There are 46 Fijian drivers in Wellington and Auckland, mainly of Fijian Indian origin, who could be affected by the change in immigration status.

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