5 Jun 2009

New Zealand opposition critical of changes to RSE scheme

7:51 am on 5 June 2009

The opposition Labour Party in New Zealand says the Government's removal of the minimum wage protection for workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer, or RSE, scheme will lead to exploitation of Pacific Islands seasonal workers.

Labour spokesperson, Darien Fenton, says the Government is allowing employers in the RSE scheme to make deductions which will reduce pay rates below the minimum wage of 12 dollars 50 New Zealand an hour.

Ms Fenton says at a time of increasing unemployment the last thing the region needs is employers able to import cheap labour.

She says it exploits the Pacific workers and undermines the minimum wage protection for New Zealand workers.

And the Council of Trade Unions says there has been significant examples of unauthorised and unfair deductions from RSE workers' pay even under the existing regulations.

It says relaxing the minimum wage rule will only result in more blatant exploitation of already vulnerable workers as unscrupulous employers shift costs onto them.