Saturday, April 20, 2024

Horticulture NZ backs RSE review

Horticulture New Zealand says it supports any move to ensure the ongoing success of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and give growers access to a skilled seasonal workforce, as growers look to the next harvest season.

“Horticulture New Zealand and other industry groups will continue their discussions with the Governments of New Zealand and the Pacific, ahead of decisions due any day now about how the RSE scheme will operate for the coming harvest season,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive, Nadine Tunley said in a statement.

“There is no tolerance for employer behaviour that is contrary to the spirit of the RSE scheme.

“We must ensure the scheme continues to operate successfully for the Pacific as well as for New Zealand.”

Ms Tunley said the RSE scheme had helped Pacific economies to develop and communities to flourish, through the skills RSE employees develop and the money that they earn over the past 15 years.

“For horticulture in New Zealand, the RSE scheme has supported growth which in turn has increased permanent employment opportunities for New Zealanders,” she said.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood recently confirmed the government will conduct a full review of the scheme early next year.

It follows Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Karanina Sumeo describing some of the conditions facing Pacific workers as “modern day slavery”. 

She said some RSE workers arriving in New Zealand from Pacific nations were being exploited, bonded to unreasonable debt and made to live in very poor conditions under the scheme.

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