Tuesday, 22 June 2021 06:55

Govt's farm pay rate directive irks farmers

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Southland sharemilker Jason Herrick says the Government is again giving farmers "the middle finger". Southland sharemilker Jason Herrick says the Government is again giving farmers "the middle finger".

A Government directive for farmers to pay new overseas workers higher rates has been slammed.

While farmers welcome the Government's decision to issue border class exemptions for another 200 dairy workers, the increase in pay levels is causing anger.

Farmers employing these extra workers must pay them $92,000 per annum or 1.75 times the current median wage for an assistant dairy farm manager.

Those employed as herd manager must be paid $79,500/year which is 1.5 times the current median wage for dairy herd manager roles.

Federated Farmers Southland sharemilker chair Jason Herrick told Dairy News that increases in pay levels is his biggest issue.

"Setting those levels for junior staff and senior staff creates a whole new set of problems with current staff," Herrick says.

"Now they will feel hard done by, so to make things smooth sailing we now have to increase the wages of our current staff to be seen to be dealing with pay equality.

"With the current payout that's all very well and good, but is the current Government guaranteeing the payout to stay there?

"If not, what happens when payout drops to $5, which is where most farms expenses are sitting?"

Herrick believes this is just another move by the Government to continue giving farmers "the middle finger".

"Most businesses will fail in the future if we see payouts drop and current pay levels keep heading in that direction, just to encourage us to employ New Zealanders that just are not there to work on farms.

"We have a long hard road ahead and I am going to keep the pressure on the Government till they start to listen and recognise they are creating all the issues we are currently having."

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says it is clear from conversations with the dairy sector that it is facing workforce pressures.

"These border exceptions will go a long wy towards relieving those pressures," he says.

The exceptions will allow up to 150 dairy farm workers in management roles on farms and up to 50 workers in dairy assistant roles, along with their partners and dependent children.

At the same time O'Connor has told sector leaders to ensure there is a strong incentive for New Zealanders to take up entry level roles and develop careers in dairying.

"The Government and food and fibres sector have been working hard to mitigate worker shortages by training and upskilling New Zealanders, but we know that takes time. This announcement recognises the immediate need for additional expertise to come through our borders.

"Dairy managers have specialist skills developed over many years, which we can't replicate overnight. With the new dairy season kicking off, migrant dairy farm workers will supplement the domestic workforce and provide critical support."

Herrick says the extra 200 workers is a token gesture from the Government.

It won't even make a small dent in the situations vacant market, he says. "We need over 1,000 in Southland alone to start getting close to relieving any sort of pressure."

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".


OPINION: Your old mate finds it rather ironic that the Government is going to open up the border to allow in 300 overseas educators to help fill the gap of teacher shortages in schools around NZ.

Pay directive irks farmers

A New Zealand Government directive for farmers to pay new overseas workers higher rates has been slammed.


Why should we do more?

OPINION: Managing our dairy sector's impacts inevitably attracts a range of views. Should we do more, less or stay the…

Cattle sale with a difference

Innovation, loss and resilience have brought the Singh family to the point where it is poised to honour its patriarch,…

O'Connor's overseas odyssey

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor continued his overseas odyssey in the past week with multiple meetings in the US, Europe and…

Machinery & Products

Protective tint

Now available in New Zealand, Wildcat Static Cling Tint adds a protective layer to the windows of your tractor, harvester…

New owner for stoll

German company Stoll, the well-known manufacturer of tractor front loaders and attachments that claims to be the second largest producer…

Fert spreaders get a revamp

Kuhn has updated its MDS range of fertiliser spreaders, giving farmers more options to upgrade machines as situations change, rather…

Mowers spring into action

With spring upon us, thoughts turn towards shutting up paddocks for conservation and maybe the purchase of new machinery to…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Feeling the heat

US dairy farmers have a new threat to their business - heat waves.

Class action

The news has gone from bad to worse for a2 Milk - the company Synlait had hitched its wagon to.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter