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More kiwifruit pickers needed – Muller

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller is calling on the government to help address a worker shortage in the kiwifruit industry. Supplied photo.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller says New Zealand’s horticultural industry is screaming out of more workers, and the government needs to listen to them.

“When our Kiwifruit growers are requesting a change to immigration settings to help alleviate pressure caused by unprecedented labour shortages, the government would be wise to listen,” says Todd.

“We are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry that supports local families, industries and communities. The kiwifruit industry alone needs over 8000 pickers to pick and pack our $2 billion annual crop.”

Todd says the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme introduced in 2007 currently allows 11,100 temporary workers into New Zealand for seasonal work like fruit picking – but the industry says it urgently needs that cap extended by at least another 2000.

“They simply need more labour than can be sourced locally. We all know that tourists and backpackers aren’t a stable supply. The industry needs a sustainable form of migration if we don’t want to see fruit left on the vine or rotting on the ground, and an extension of the RSE scheme is the most viable option,” says Todd.

“I’m not saying this as an outsider. My family and I have built our lives on the foundations of the horticultural industry.

“That industry is being put at risk by a government that campaigned on a populist platform of slashing immigration without considering the devastating impact it would have on our regions – those regions are now paying the price.”

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has travelled to a number of regions recently that rely heavily on the RSE scheme, and says he is aware of the need to ensure that employers in the horticulture industry are able to get the people they need during seasonal peaks.

“I have asked Immigration NZ to carry out an operational review of the RSE scheme and the results of that review will inform any decisions I make about increasing the scheme.

“More immediately, there are other options that could be considered, such as a declaration of a labour shortage in the Bay of Plenty, which will allow people holding visitor visas to work in the region.”

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No problems with good packhouses

Posted on 08-05-2018 22:49 | By waxing

The good packhouses in the Bay (and yes there are some) who look after their workers, providing good pay, work conditions and support don’t have problems getting good workers. Funny that eh...? But those who allow sexual harassment of young women, who have union reps who act like management reps, who dock pay if you clock on 3 minutes late but pay nothing extra when you work an extra 10 minutes, who don’t ensure you have full length smokos, who reject good ideas outright, who don’t provide for some sort of rotation in boring monotonous jobs, who speed up the belts once the Zespri QAs have gone and then criticise quality, who have no facilities to heat up food, who have HR and Payroll offices miles away from canteens etc etc have only got themselves to blame for not attracting workers.

What about

Posted on 08-05-2018 15:11 | By Merlin

What about the weather if it rains for a week do they get paid I suspect not and they still have to live and pay for food and petrol and the hassle with the Welfare Department getting a top up is I believe a major hurdle.

Let's keep doing this!

Posted on 05-05-2018 19:24 | By backofthequeue

The very first case of human trafficking in NZ was in relation to kiwifruit pickers in the BOP. Following on from this a recent MBIE investigation found over half of all kiwifruit contractors in the BOP were in breach of some area of NZ employment law. This has all taken place on the local Members watch. A common theme here is that all of this exploitation is directly associated with immigrant workers. Perhaps Mr Muller would be better served in calling out for better pay and conditions so as to attract more of the local workforce than asking for more foreign victims to be made available.

Let's keep doing this!

Posted on 05-05-2018 19:23 | By backofthequeue

The very first case of human trafficking in NZ was in relation to kiwifruit pickers in the BOP. Following on from this a recent MBIE investigation found over half of all kiwifruit contractors in the BOP were in breach of some area of NZ employment law. This has all taken place on the local Members watch. A common theme here is that all of this exploitation is directly associated with immigrant workers. Perhaps Mr Muller would be better served in calling out for better pay and conditions so as to attract more of the local workforce than asking for more foreign victims to be made available.

Hmmmm...

Posted on 05-05-2018 15:16 | By morepork

Perhaps if the 2 Billion dollar industry paid a better wage to pickers, more people might be encouraged to go and work there? Markets usually work that way,

Avr

Posted on 05-05-2018 14:55 | By Anton

When there are good wages would be paid there shouldnt be a shortage of labourers.

And how..

Posted on 05-05-2018 10:45 | By Marshal

I am amazed how hard it is to get good cheap labour.. LOL

Poor growers

Posted on 05-05-2018 10:31 | By Eddie Munster

The industry as survived too long on immigration slave schemes. Pay a living wage and you will get workers. Simple.

What about Getting local stay Mums and Dads involved.

Posted on 05-05-2018 10:21 | By BlueberryBee

Over the past couple of weeks I have spoken to fellow Mums (and I’m sure there are dads to) that are looking for employment but cant seem to get work within school hours. I mention season work like kiwifruit. And normally the answer comes back to work not being in school hours. I have wondered if anyone has thought of creating a shift say from 9-2.30 to fit into school hours for picking Kiwi Fruit. It could be a win win. Just a thought.