2 Jul 2014

Labour policy under fire from Hort NZ

8:17 am on 2 July 2014

The Labour's Party proposed immigration policy has come under fire from the horticulture sector which says it would make life more difficult for growers employing foreign workers.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said if Labour's new immigration policy was implemented it would penalise growers using the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

He said they would have to pay foreign workers more than local ones - and pay for their accommodation too.

"Those people (under the RSE scheme) are only brought in when we can prove that there are no New Zealanders to do the work, so we're concerned it's going to penalise people who are growing their businesses just because there are not New Zealanders available," he said.

"Effectively this sets up a system where we're required first of all to pay more and also fund the accommodation of people coming in on the RSE scheme."

Horticulture New Zealand says Labour's immigration policy would penalise growers using the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

Horticulture New Zealand says Labour's immigration policy would penalise growers using the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Labour's immigration spokesperson Trevor Mallard said the policy was designed to encourage employers to develop the skills of New Zealanders first.

But he said the changes would make the RSE scheme fairer for foreign workers when it came to their pay and accommodation.

"This will make it slightly more expensive for them, but my experience with the RSE scheme is that the workers are just about all on contract. They're contract pickers rather than hourly rate - what this means is there would be some further underpinning of their income."