A boost to New Zealand's seasonal workforce is great for the
horticulture industry, Rural Contractors New Zealand says.
It wants a similar scheme for the rural contracting sector.
The organisation has welcomed the Government's plans to
encourage more Kiwis to take up seasonal work, and its
decision to increase the annual Recognised Seasonal Employer
cap to a total of 9000 workers.
These moves were essential in delivering the horticulture
industry's forecasted future growth, RCNZ president Steve
''There is no doubt the horticulture sector is an important
and valuable part of New Zealand's economy and the Government
is right to make provisions for that sector.
''However, we need similar provisions for the rural
contracting sector as there is a gap between rural
contractors' needs for trained, agricultural machinery
operators and unemployed New Zealanders who can do this
Mr Levet said the rules for employing temporary, skilled
people from overseas who were prepared to work six to eight
months each year should be simplified, as should regulations
restricting people who have worked here in past seasons
coming back again.
''Contracting is a seasonal business and one that uses
sophisticated machinery that requires technical skill to
operate productively,'' he said.
''Part of this shortfall is met by bringing in skilled
operators from overseas.''
All political parties needed to understand that a dire
shortage of suitable agricultural machinery operators meant
rural contractors had for many years relied on hiring
overseas people each season.
Many applicants put forward by Work and Income either did not
have the right skills or attitude, Mr Levet said.
''We are talking about operating highly technical and very
expensive pieces of machinery.
''It is unrealistic, unsafe and impractical to expect
unemployed people to walk off the street and successfully
take up these positions.
''The seasonal nature of rural contracting means workers with
the right skills are needed for only a few months each year.
Understandably, this kind of short-term employment does not
often suit locals who are looking for full-time work.''
RCNZ would continue to work with the Government, political
parties and officials to ensure local people were given the
best employment opportunities, he said.
It would also lobby for rule changes that would benefit the
- by Sally Brooker