25 Oct 2006

New Zealand says Pacific labour scheme proofed against abuse

4:37 pm on 25 October 2006

New Zealand's immigration minister, David Cunliffe, says steps will be taken to ensure seasonal workers from the Pacific will not be exploited.

Up to 5,000 people a year are to be allowed into New Zealand in a scheme set to begin next april.

It is in response to requests from island country leaders and the horticulture and viticulture sectors.

Mr Cunliffe says employers will be required to pay half of the workers' airfares and provide board and lodging.

And he says these costs cannot be deducted below a point where the worker would net less than the minimum New Zealand wage.

"So this is a very good deal for the workers. And we think it is very important that the scheme is well run and the people are well cared for. We don't want to see any exploitation of workers in New Zealand. The part of it the workers themselves need to clear about is that they must return home at the end of each season. We do not want an overstayer problem."