The recognized quota for Seasonal Employers will increase by 3150 and reach 16,000 in the subsequent two years. The statistics are 1550 in the 2019-20 season and 1600 in 2020 -21. Additionally, the second increase is on the condition that employers will improve worker accommodation, and also make the job attractive to hire the local workers.
The sectors horticulture and viticulture are thriving absolutely, and projecting major growth, but face a challenge in improving wages, working conditions, and the issues of exploitation and housing.
There was an increase in the horticulture export revenue by 13.7%, touching the figures of $6.1 billion for 30 June 2019. There is an expectation of further growth of 3.8% to touch $6.3b in the present financial year. When the scheme began in 2006, the visa cap was 5000.
There is a belief that with the increase of the numbers in seasonal workers, sourced from the Pacific, there will be a big help in getting the needed security. There will be enough work-force, to pluck the fruits, and good jobs will be created for people in the country. When the people arrive, the employers can provide suitable accommodation.
In spite of the increase of foreign seasonal workers, from the Pacific, following the changes, the minister maintained that the seasonal visa scheme, provided just 20 percent of the grower workers. The regions of Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, the Bay of Plenty, and Otago, relied most on the visa scheme, even though there is a large population of youth without employment.
The growers can now be certain, and start to build more accommodation for workers, that in turn, will attract more local workers, to the sector, and increase the cap further accordingly. The government is keen to watch wage improvements; and worker accommodation built.
Experts also feel that the Government is moving in the accurate direction. Workers were playing a major role in the growth of horticulture industry, owing to demand increase in exports, and also domestically. As a result of the scheme, there was a payment of $50m, to the seasonal workers of the Pacific, in the last season. These changes are also an important help to growers. The Bay of Plenty, and some other areas have a challenge, and the members are frustrated in attracting local workers or the overseas workers, for processing their crops. Making the jobs attractive, for the local workers was difficult to do, but the provision for the employers to give suitable and sufficient accommodation, to the overseas workers was fair.
The harvest of strawberries begins next month and growers are still waiting for allocations. Finally Last year, growers lost nearly 25% of their crops as it was rotting on the ground owing to labor shortages.
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