7 Jun 2017

Fiji govt bans villages from seasonal work in New Zealand

6:50 pm on 7 June 2017

Several Fijian villages have been banned for four years from taking part in New Zealand's seasonal worker programme after complaints from employers.

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Photo: RNZ/Peter Fowler

The Fiji government said it had received reports from the New Zealand government about misconduct and disorderly behaviour among Fijian workers.

The Employment Minister Jone Usamate said the offending workers' village or settlement would not be allowed to take part in either the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme or its Australian equivalent, the Australia Seasonal Worker Programme .

"Recent reports revealed that the issues raised by the NZ employers are alcohol related, failing to report to work, not showing respect, poor leadership, unhygienic living, high absenteeism and undue influence from the Fijian community in New Zealand." said Mr Usamate.

"These seasonal workers were employed with Provine, Bostok, Mr Apple, Teamwork and Apata in New Zealand," he said.

Fiji Minister of Employment Jone Usamate

Fiji Minister of Employment Jone Usamate Photo: supplied

More than two dozen villages or settlements have been suspended from the programme.

The government said it had earlier emphasised suspension was possible if workers damaged Fiji's reputation while working on the schemes, which recruit labourers from Pacific islands to work mostly in the horticultural industry.

Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme workers from Fiji taken a short break from picking pears in a Twyford orchard owned by RJ Flowers.

Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme workers from Fiji taken a short break from picking pears in a Twyford orchard owned by RJ Flowers. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

The first Fijian workers recruited under New Zealand's RSE scheme arrived in Hawkes Bay in 2015 for the apple harvest.

Fiji had been allowed into the scheme as part of a warming of relations between the two countries after Fiji held elections in 2014.

A group of Fijians participating in New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

A group of Fijians participating in New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

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