Friday, 06 August 2021 12:44

Pacific workers not a silver bullet

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Alan Pollard, Apple and Pear NZ chief executive. Alan Pollard, Apple and Pear NZ chief executive.

More Pacific Island workers won’t solve the acute labour shortage faced by New Zealand orchards and vineyards.

Apple and Pear New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard told the HortNZ Conference in Hamilton today that even if the full Government quota of 14,400 Pacific workers are allowed into New Zealand, it won’t solve the labour shortage issue.

Pollard says workers in orchards normally come in equal numbers from three sources: Pacific Islands, backpackers and domestic workforce. The lack of backpackers and local workers remains a major issue.

“Normally, we have 50,000 backpackers in the country; right now there are less than 10,000 of them here,” says Pollard.

On the local workforce, Pollard says low unemployment figures out this week mean all sectors are competing for a smaller pool of workers.

However, Pollard says removing quarantine requirements for incoming Pacific Island workers brought a sense of relief.

He says it wasn’t a surprise, because the thinking had been changing within the Government during the past few months.

MIQ-free travel would allow more workers to come into NZ and growers won’t be required to pay for MIQ costs. The Government has capped Pacific workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme at 14,400.

At present about 7,000 RSE workers are in New Zealand. However, about 5,000 of these workers have been here nearly two years and need to go back home to their families. Their stay had been extended due to travel restrictions triggered by Covid.

The Government allows 150 Pacific workers into the country every 16 days and, with quarantine requirements removed, the inflow of workers will grow.

More like this

First RSE flights planned for October

Fruit growers are hoping three planeloads of Pacific Island workers will touch down in Auckland early next month, under the revised Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

Labour pains!

Overseas workers on their way to drive machinery and pick fruit could be affected by last week's decision to pause the release of MIQ rooms.

National

Marketing blast for Rockit

Gaining momentum from the global roll-out of its new brand in July, NZ fruit company Rockit has recently launched its…

Zespri celebrates in style

The contribution of NZ's kiwifruit industry came in for some high praise at a special function at Parliament, just before…

Keeping NZ kids healthy!

New Zealand's fresh fruit and vegetable sector has signed a new two-year deal with the Government to continue supplying produce…

Machinery & Products

Smart way to bumper crops

With kiwifruit being the "go to" good food of the 21st century, it was inevitable that orchard prices would skyrocket.

Taking spud harvest to next level

With more than 40 years of two and four-row self-propelled harvester production behind them, the latest Dewulf harvester - imported…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Lock him up!

OPINION: This old mutt notes that Geoff Reid, an 'environmental activist' - whose activism appears to be limited to surreptitiously…

Milking it?

OPINION: Your canine crusader understands members of the 'strategic groups' invoked in the Government-backed 'Fit for a Better World' programme…

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter