Seasonal worker increase welcomed

Challenge for Gisborne is to ensure local labour force developed as priority.

Challenge for Gisborne is to ensure local labour force developed as priority.

Cameron Sade, Stephen Lakena and Lucian Balaga from The Solomon Islands pick apples. File picture

GISBORNE growers have welcomed the announcement the Government will increase the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand for the 2016-17 season.

But at the same time they point to a low demand for imported seasonal staff in this district under what is called the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said an extra 1000 workers would be allowed into the country under the scheme this growing season.

The current cap will be increased to 10,500 RSE workers.

Gisborne growers predicted at a meeting in late October that labour supply would become more of an issue here if it was not addressed.

Activate Tairawhiti has indicated that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industries here in the next three-to-five-years will produce more than 1200 new jobs.

“The increase of 1000 RSE workers shows the Government is committed to enabling the industry to continue to grow and maximise export returns, while ensuring jobs are not being taken from New Zealanders,” Mr Woodhouse said.

Both ministers said the increase has been made on the understanding that the industry continues to maximise opportunities for New Zealanders, particularly in regions with relatively high unemployment.

Mrs Tolley said significant progress has already been made on employing New Zealanders in the industries.

“Around 500 beneficiaries have already taken part in the New Zealand Seasonal Work Scheme and a significant number have not gone back on a benefit.”

LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke said the government move was a really positive one.

“It gives growers a sound opportunity to ensure that labour is not a restraining factor for growth.”

Mr Burke said 65 workers were sought under the RSE scheme here last year.

“But we did not fulfil those numbers and the number topped out at around 40,” Mr Burke said.

“So while it is positive, this move will not really affect Gisborne growers because our local labour market handles 99 percent of our needs.”

Kaiaponi Farms has been the other noteable user of RSE labour.

General manager Scott Wilson agreed it was positive news for the industry.

“The additional 1000 workers will assist the planned growth across all horticulture businesses across New Zealand, including Gisborne.

“The challenge for Gisborne is to ensure that we work together to develop the local labour force as a priority,” Mr Wilson said.

“And that we convert that development into more permanent positions here.”

GISBORNE growers have welcomed the announcement the Government will increase the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand for the 2016-17 season.

But at the same time they point to a low demand for imported seasonal staff in this district under what is called the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said an extra 1000 workers would be allowed into the country under the scheme this growing season.

The current cap will be increased to 10,500 RSE workers.

Gisborne growers predicted at a meeting in late October that labour supply would become more of an issue here if it was not addressed.

Activate Tairawhiti has indicated that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industries here in the next three-to-five-years will produce more than 1200 new jobs.

“The increase of 1000 RSE workers shows the Government is committed to enabling the industry to continue to grow and maximise export returns, while ensuring jobs are not being taken from New Zealanders,” Mr Woodhouse said.

Both ministers said the increase has been made on the understanding that the industry continues to maximise opportunities for New Zealanders, particularly in regions with relatively high unemployment.

Mrs Tolley said significant progress has already been made on employing New Zealanders in the industries.

“Around 500 beneficiaries have already taken part in the New Zealand Seasonal Work Scheme and a significant number have not gone back on a benefit.”

LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke said the government move was a really positive one.

“It gives growers a sound opportunity to ensure that labour is not a restraining factor for growth.”

Mr Burke said 65 workers were sought under the RSE scheme here last year.

“But we did not fulfil those numbers and the number topped out at around 40,” Mr Burke said.

“So while it is positive, this move will not really affect Gisborne growers because our local labour market handles 99 percent of our needs.”

Kaiaponi Farms has been the other noteable user of RSE labour.

General manager Scott Wilson agreed it was positive news for the industry.

“The additional 1000 workers will assist the planned growth across all horticulture businesses across New Zealand, including Gisborne.

“The challenge for Gisborne is to ensure that we work together to develop the local labour force as a priority,” Mr Wilson said.

“And that we convert that development into more permanent positions here.”

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