All NZ kiwifruit contractors to be audited after worker exploitation

Kiwifruit harvest contractors in New Zealand will be audited next season as the industry takes a tough stance on exploitation of workers in order to deal with growing concerns.

Zespri communications manager Oliver Broad said it was one of a number of initiatives that aimed to raise standards and drive compliance.

It implemented a pilot programme for labour contractors last year and "this will be rolled out to all harvest contractors in the coming season, covering labour law and worker welfare", he said.

It was part of an industry programme on Global GAP, an international initiative on safe and sustainable agricultural practices.

"We will be extending our contractor registration process this year to include all labour contractors and sub-contractors rather than just harvest contractors."

An independent organisation would carry out the audits to a Zespri standard, he said.

MBIE labour inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan said it had a focus on the horticulture and viticulture industries for a number of years, with regular operations targeting breaches of minimum employment standards in orchards across the country - including in the kiwifruit industry.

"We have encouraged the kiwifruit industry to take greater ownership over the breaches of employment standards found in their orchards, and in their supply chains. With the industry looking to begin to self-audit and check their supply chains, we believe this is a good step in the right direction.

Read more at nzherald.co.nz

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