5 Jun 2009

New Zealand government says RSE change improves transparency

2:38 pm on 5 June 2009

The New Zealand Government says changes to the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, under which thousands of Pacific Islanders work for limited periods in horticulture, will introduce greater transparency.

The Government announced this week that deductions could be made from the minimum wage and that the workers would need to buy health insurance.

But the opposition Labour Party calls the move shocking and says it will exploit vulnerable workers.

The Minister of Immigration, Dr Jonathan Coleman, dismisses the criticism, saying Labour is in an ideological straitjacket.

He says the compulsory deductions for health insurance are vital because many of the workers have no cover at all.

"When they get into health difficulties they are presented with a situation where they can't access health care and in those situations where they do get access the New Zealand tax payer ends up footing the bill. So we are saying we are going to make it incumbent on the employers to arrange health insurance which the RSE workers will have to pay for."

Dr Jonathan Coleman