New Zealand welcomes seasonal workers

New Zealand Seasonal Worker

According to recent research carried out by the Department of Labor, The New Zealand Regional Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE) brings a lot of benefits for NZ employers and foreign workers who are participating in it.

RSE is designed in order to help NZ companies to attract personnel in areas for which labour shortages exist such as agriculture, horticulture and viticulture. Every year more than 8000 foreign workers come to New Zealand under the Regional Seasonal Employment Scheme.

Although local companies are required to search for unemployed New Zealand citizens before hiring foreigners, it is very difficult for some industries to find enough workers on the local market especially at peak times. For example, it is estimated that around 50 000 workers are needed in New Zealand at harvest time. Between 6000 and 7000 of those workers are usually foreigners. This equals to 10-15% of the total workforce.

The research shows that a lot of the RSE workers return to New Zealand to work for another season. Working in New Zealand provides them with valuable skills and experience and income that they can bring home. The average annual salary of a New Zealand worker is 12 500 New Zealand Dollars. Most of the RSE workers spend between three and twelve months in the country. Furthermore, overseas workers are paid the same salaries as their New Zealand colleagues and enjoy the same working rights and protections.

Around 50% of companies want to hire the same employees for the next season. Returning workers can be immediately effective and productive in comparison with the first-time workers who usually need initial on-the-job-training. Many employers agree that the hiring of foreign workers was helpful for their company and increased the efficacy and the efficiency of their business operations.

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Hi Deyan They are interesting ideas you have. Are you suggesting that if RSE workers were 'free' that they would take New Zealand jobs? But because they are 'unfree' they are not taking New Zealanders jobs? Shouldn't we ask what the Horticultural and Viticultural industries have done to improve labour productivity before granting them an 'Unfree labour' knee jerk employment scheme. The main employers(by number of employees) of the this scheme grow apples and grapes. Comparing these industries with other industries in terms of technology adoption to improve productivity is like...a builder using hand tools or an office worker still using a typewriter. There is no incentive to adopted productive working methods if you can more easily get cheap Unfree labour. Regards Daniel

Hello Daniel, Thank you for you post. The fact that the workers are tied with one employer protects the working places of the New Zealand citizens, so it is actually a good thing. Furthermore the New Zealand employers are obliged to search for employees locally, before they hire a foreigners, so that the job market never becomes oversupplied with foreign workers. Best Regards,

Unfree labour = RSE scheme. Employees are tied to one employer. New Zealand Horticulture products and New Zealand Wines proudly made with UNFREE LABOUR. This scheme has been successful in lowering the wages of New Zealand workers by over supplying the seasonal labour market with workers who are offen unable to find any or very little paid employment in their own countries. As a result of the over supply of workers seasonal work wages have been reduced in regions where RSE workers are employed. Has the former Dept of Labour been monitoring New Zealand seasonal worker wages during the time the scheme has been in operation? No they have not. The scheme has been good for Pacific govts, New Zealand Hort/Viticultural businesses and the NZ govt but for the 40 000 New Zealand seasonal workers it has been a disaster!! Thanks for the 25% pay cut over the last 5 years, you little beauty.

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