Tuesday, 25 May 2021 05:55

Do more to attract workers - O'Connor

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the industry must tweak the way it attracts and appreciates workers. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the industry must tweak the way it attracts and appreciates workers.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has thrown the worker shortage issue back to farmers, saying the industry must try harder to attract and retain workers.

Speaking at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, O’Connor said the industry must “tweak” the way they look for, retain and appreciate workers.

“We have to try hard…if we are the best industry then people should want to come and be part of it,” he says.

O’Connor also had a message for the dairy sector seeking more spaces in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) spaces for overseas workers.

“It’s not possible at this stage just to open the doors,” he says.

“We’ve all done an amazing job to keep Covid at bay. That investment can’t be put at risk in a rush to open our borders.

“We will be cautious but I appreciate the pressure that is out there across the industry.”

O’Connor had some nice words for the dairy sector.

“This is the biggest and best industry in our country. Sunshine, rain, a bit of soil and we produce protein and food for the world. And, we have done it very very successfully.”

Federated Farmers vice president Chris Lewis says improving working conditions has been “a work in progress” for many years.

Lewis told Dairy News that every industry has some bad apples but claims the bell curve in the dairy industry when it comes to working conditions is shifting pretty quickly.

Lewis says the Government must not use “patsy excuses” to deny dairy industry more spaces in MIQ facilities for overseas workers.

He thinks the Government has reduced MIQ spaces and with many industries fighting for places, it is picking winners.

A recent DairyNZ survey showed that 87% of farmers surveyed had made changes to make their business more attractive to staff. These changes included improved rosters to give more time off (42%), reduced hours of work (34%), flexible milking schedule (23%), increased salaries and wages (65%).

To put more pressure on the Government, farmers are being asked to email the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi and O’Connor to highlight issues relating to worker shortage on their farms.

Farmers are being told the Government has signalled that they don’t think the industry needs migrant workers to help on our farms.

“We strongly encourage all farmers with a staffing shortage because of the restrictions on migrant labour to write to the Government and let them know,” says Lewis.

This month the Government denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms. It also approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, way below the 400 that is needed.

More like this

Worker shortage warning

A Southland dairy industry leader says the Government's response to worker shortages in the dairy industry is a "cop out".

Visa roadblock!

Visa applications for migrant dairy workers are being declined over a contentious 40-hour working week requirement by the Government.

National

Machinery & Products

Effluent injection goes XL

Dutch effluent specialist Vredo is testing 15 and 18-metre wide slurry injection rigs for the upcoming 2022 spreading season.

Choosing the right pump

Choosing the right pump for an effluent system is the key to ensuring a system works well and gives many…

Spreading muck with ease

Palmerston North headquartered Strautmann Hopkins Ltd imports the extensive range of Strautmann Muck Spreaders for farmers and contractors, built by…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Liquid or powder?

Fonterra, the biggest exporter of milk powder to Sri Lanka, may have a new battle on its hands.

Failed legal action

UK vegan and animal rights groups have failed in a bid to ban an advertising campaign promoting meat and dairy…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter