An external review by MartinJenkins, a consulting firm, found shortcomings in Chorus subcontracting. Subcontractors build the company’s UFB fibre network and install customer connections.

Chorus commissioned the report after the Labour Inspectorate identified employment law breaches. 

One finding was that the risk of labour exploitation grew as the number of migrant workers on the UFB project increased. 

MartinJenkins says this risk of exploitation was neither well understood, nor adequately managed by Chorus or its service company partners Visionstream and UCG. It also says the quality of the process the partners followed when responding to complaints was inconsistent. 

The report says Chorus, Visionstream and UCG need a more joined-up approach to workforce strategy. They also need a shared understanding of needs, pressures and risks. There also needs to be a focus on potential impacts on the viability of individual crews.

Earlier today Chorus laid out its plan to address the problems. The company says it will work with Visionstream and UCG to create consistent fair conditions in line with employment laws for all workers in the Chorus supply chain. 

Patrick Strange, the Chorus chairman, says the company is: "…committed to doing the right thing by people working on our behalf, including those who have come to New Zealand to build a better life for themselves and their family. 

“While the report finds the vast majority of employment law breaches were low level, the way the supply chain is set up means it could still be vulnerable and this will be fixed.”

CEO Kate McKenzie says the new workers have been great additions to the workforce. She says they bring their much-needed skills to our country, while lifting our productivity and quality.

She says: “We will make the necessary changes to ensure fairness in line with employment laws no matter where in the supply chain workers are contributing. We know that Chorus is not alone in facing supply chain challenges, so we are also working to share what we learn with other businesses and government to help inform wider policy choices."