Pacific labour

Union calls out Australian wool industry push for cheap Pacific labour

The wool industry claims to have identified a workforce shortage of 500 shearers and 500 shed hands, and wants to use Pacific Islands workers in what it hopes will be the start of a steady pipeline of easily exploitable workers.

AWU National Secretary Dan Walton said the union was not convinced there was a genuine worker shortage.

He says despite the ongoing claims by the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia and some woolgrowers of a labour shortage, the fact is the Australian flock has been shorn year after year.

Covid-19 pandemic may pose risks for seasonal programmes in NZ and Australia

Tonga is one of the three  major suppliers of labour to the programme.

But restrictions on travel to New Zealand and Australia and the ban on international flights in a number of Pacific nations, including Tonga, could mean that thousands of workers may be unable to take up positions this year.

Equally large numbers could be trapped as their work visas come to an end.

Australia’s seasonal work programme grew by 44% in 2018-19, or by some 3000 workers, after a cap on workers numbers was removed.

Pacific and NZ unions left out of Pacific Labour meeting

RNZ reports the meeting on Pacific labour mobility was supposed to take place ahead of ministerial meetings of the PACER Plus trade negotiations taking place later in the week.

Both the New Zealand and Australian Council of Trade Unions as well as the South Pacific Council of Trade Unions voiced their concerns at not being allowed to participate in the labour mobility meeting.

NZCTU secretary Sam Huggard said it was not possible to achieve a good outcome for Pacific workers without the voices of those workers at the table.