Thursday, June 17, 2021
Times of Georgia
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New Zealand Horticulture Industry Welcomes Government’s Decision To Bring In More Workers From The Pacific


The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the
Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers
from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal
Employer (RSE) scheme.

‘Pacific workers are an
integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal
workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning. They
make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same
time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ
more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ
Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘Indeed, over the
past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown
by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck,
more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies
through the RSE scheme.

‘The RSE scheme is very much
a win-win – for the Pacific and for the New Zealand
horticulture industry. That is why the horticulture industry
has advocated so vigorously for the scheme to continue and
for some sort of Pacific bubble to be formed, given New
Zealand’s Pacific partner nations are Covid-free, and we
now have a vaccine being rolled out.’

Mike says the
horticulture industry – NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated
(NZKGI), NZ Apples & Pears, Summerfruit NZ, NZ
Winegrowers, NZ Ethical Employers and HortNZ – negotiated
strongly with the Government to reduce the cost to growers
and employers of bringing these RSE workers into New
Zealand.

‘We appreciate the Government acknowledging
the need for Pacific workers due to the lack of available
New Zealand workers. But we believe the costs to growers and
employers for this new cohort are too high, given our own
calculations of the actual cost of quarantine,
accommodation, and meals, etc. That is why we pushed hard
for the Government to reduce the cost and, while we did
achieve some concessions, there was limited room for
movement and no agreement was reached.

‘The industry
also strongly believes – for both cultural and health and
safety reasons – that shared rooms are the most appropriate
accommodation for Pacific workers, and that isolating the
workers in single rooms is not the best
option.

‘Given the high cost to growers and
employers, they will need to make their own business
decisions on whether to participate in this cohort of
Pacific workers,’ says
Mike.

© Scoop Media

 



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