New Zealand growers desperate to attract workers are building their own accommodation, bumping up wages, and trying to recruit backpackers before they arrive in the country.
A handful of Eastern Bay of Plenty primary industry employers turned out to meet with National party immigration spokeswoman Erica Stanford at a Te Rahu Road kiwifruit orchard in late November according to www.sunlive.co.nz
Stanford was there to hear about some of the issues facing orchardists and farmers due to worker shortages in New Zealand, particularly RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) workers and working holiday makers.
“We’re working on an immigration policy at the moment so I’m talking to people and making sure that we are on the right track, hearing their stories.”
She said the current immigration policies had made New Zealand an unattractive proposition for workers compared to countries such as Australia, Canada and Britain. The slowness to open borders to workers at the beginning of the year along with hold-ups with visa processing times had put huge strains on primary industries such as kiwifruit. She said she also had concerns about upcoming legislation restricting people on work visas being able to stay more than three years.
Orchardists are hanging out for more workers, with one saying managers recruit working holidaymakers online before they arrive in New Zealand.