29 September 2011

New Zealand union opposes migrant drilling crews

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A New Zealand mining industry union has launched a campaign against plans to contract an Icelandic drilling company to conduct a local project.

New Zealand skilled migration

NZ mining industry union is against the hiring of foreign workers on a geothermal drilling project.

Waikato-based energy company Mighty River Power has faced backlash from mining exploration industry union EPMU over its plans to use workers from Iceland on an upcoming North Island geothermal project.  The EPMU claims the awarding of work contracts to drilling experts from Icelandic firm Jardboranir will take jobs away from New Zealanders.

The NZ$32-million project at the Ngatamariki geothermal stream field northeast of Taupo, is due for completion in mid-2013 and has been contracted solely to the Icelandic firm, who provided their largest drilling rig.

EPMU organiser Ross Henderson said Mighty River Power should have sought to utilise local skills and experience rather than importing workers from overseas.

"They could have trained up our drillers months before they arrived. I haven't seen them test the market," he said.

Mr Henderson also questioned the New Zealand visa status of the Icelandic workers and whether they would obtain approval from New Zealand immigration authorities.

"I am unsure how they are going to get approval from Immigration...It's quite disturbing. A lot of our work has gone offshore, now we are looking at our traditional work being carried out by foreigners."

Jardboranir said it would commit to training and gradually hiring and promoting local drillers. 

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