200 workers ‘token gesture’

The Government’s announcement another 200 dairy workers will be allowed into the country to help alleviate shortages is being called a token gesture by a Southland farmer.

Last month Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick wrote a letter asking for border exemptions to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, which prompted hundreds of farmers to do the same.

He only ever received a generic response.

Mr Herrick said the announcement, while appreciated, was just a blip in the worker-shortage pond and "not enough to alleviate pressure’’.

He backed a petition launched by Southland MP Joseph Mooney which urged the Government to provide 500 MIQ spaces each fortnight to bring in skilled migrant workers before the beginning of the upcoming calving season.

Mr Mooney said the dairy industry made up about 28% of New Zealand’s exports and was incredibly important.

“If the Government does not address this issue immediately and more farm workers are not allowed into the country our communities will suffer.”

A survey conducted by Dairy NZ and Federated Farmers showed 49% of dairy farmers were short-staffed.

“Not being able to get enough farm workers into the country to provide on-farm support is causing huge burnout and huge mental health concerns in the farming community.”

Mr Herrick said the announcement was an affront to migrant workers already in the country, unable to bring their families here.

"Yet they’re advertising they can bring in 200 new workers and their families.’’

He felt it was poor for the Agriculture Minister to not reply to a Federated Farmers entity.

"He’s supposed to represent us in the rural sector. We all feel like that is just not happening.’’

The minister was unable to respond to questions before deadline yesterday.

laura.smith@odt.co.nz


 

Comments

Chickens coming home to roost. Like several industries If they hadn't neglected cultivating a local work force, and had offered a wage package attractive enough to attract workers they wouldn't be having this issue .
As a side note I see another orchard was going to be opened in central otago , a place already crying they don't have enough workers, with plans for expansion . Have they ensured they have enough workers first or are they just going to go running to the govt crying that 'fuit will rot on the ground' if the govt doesn't let in more cheap labor.
One would think ensuring you had a local workforce sufficant for standard operating situations would be part of the due diligence of operating a business , at least it used to be . These days it seems that staff are that last consideration and immigration the first port of a call.
It seems the free market govt keep out ideology and the law of supply and demand are only for top end wages and justifying high prices but not when it comes to lower end wages , corporate welfare, training and staffing issues etc .

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