12 Jun 2006

Foundation welcomes possibility of temporary work schemes in New Zealand

7:05 pm on 12 June 2006

The Pacific Co-Operation Foundation is welcoming reports that New Zealand is considering temporary work schemes for Pacific Islanders but its director says there are some stumbling blocks to overcome.

Vince McBride was speaking after the Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, said people from countries such as Fiji, Samoa or Vanuatu, could come for three to four months to work if a system could be found to ensure they went home.

Mr McBride says he believes a solution to this issue could be found between employers, Pacific Island governments and the New Zealand government.

He says another stumbling block that needs to be considered is union opposition to temporary workers especially if the economy is in a downturn.

"The possibility of wage rates being either undercut or held low, and the possibility of New Zealanders being displaced out of jobs. Now, that wouldn't be the case at the moment because there's a shortage of labour in New Zealand but if the economy changed, clearly groups coming in from the Pacific Islands might be a threat to New Zealanders jobs."

Mr McBride says that's one of the issues that would have to be agreed upon in advance and possibly the scheme would only apply when there's clearly a shortage of labour in New Zealand.