RSE workers

Abused RSE workers in Australia too afraid to speak out

The stark findings are the result of an extensive survey by Australia's Anti-Slavery Taskforce.

The Taskforce's Executive Officer, Alison Rahill, said the Australian government needs greater scrutiny of the Pacific Labour Mobility scheme and that better support is needed for its seasonal workers.

The Taskforce is a social agency established by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, providing support for potential victims of slavery-like practices.

Ms Rahill said isolation and other factors increases the risk of abuse.

NZ's border reopening 'too little, too late' - horticulture industry chief

They say more could and should have been done to avoid the crisis facing the 2021-2022 harvest season.

From 28 February, New Zealanders will be able to arrive back from Australia and expatriates from the rest of the world can return from 14 March.

Aotearoa was expected to open to foreigners from visa-waiver countries such as the United States no later than July.

For those who benefit from New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) Scheme, the move had come "too little too late".

New Zealand confirms dates for One-way Quarantine Free Travel dates for RSE Scheme

“We’re pleased to announce that RSE workers from Vanuatu can begin arriving into New Zealand from 4 October, with Samoan and Tongan workers arriving from 12 October,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

“This will provide much needed certainty for our growers as they gear up for summer and autumn harvesting.”

One-way quarantine-free travel for Samoa, Tonga,Vanuatu RSE workers to start in October

The change was announced by, New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“We want to provide certainty to the horticulture industry that we are moving forward with safe quarantine-free travel for RSE workers in time for the upcoming picking season,” Damien O’Connor said.

Tonga passes on latest Recognised Seasonal Employer intake in NZ

In November, Business Central welcomed the government's decision to allow an extra 2,000 experienced seasonal workers into New Zealand in from January to mid-March this year.

Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji have confirmed their participation in the horticulture and viticulture seasonal work.

However, Tonga has had to pass on the opportunity because they are unable to meet certain criteria of the new programme, which includes a guaranteed return flight home at the end of the season.

Tongans trapped in New Zealand since the start of lockdown are finally going home

It is the first Air NZ repatriation flight of Tongans since border restrictions were introduced.

Air New Zealand Senior Manager of Pacific Islands Brent Roxburgh said many Tongans have been stuck in NZ since the beginning of the pandemic earlier this year.

“Air New Zealand is pleased to be working closely with the Tongan government to help facilitate those wanting to return home,” said Roxburgh.

Kiwifruit body wants more RSE workers

The body's chief executive, Nikki Johnson, said this reflected the current labour shortage facing the industry in the Bay of Plenty region.

The cap was increased from 10,500 to 11,100 for this year's season and around 2000 RSE workers would operate in the Bay of Plenty at some point, Ms Johnson said.

An extra 1200 workers were needed over the next month, however, to pick and pack the kiwifruit crop, she said.

What next for senior RSE workers?

The temporary migrant labour scheme celebrated its tenth anniversary in Blenheim in July 2017 after initially being introduced in 2007 to assist the New Zealand horticultural industry find a stable workforce whilst improving the economies of the Pacific Islands.

However, RSE Liaison Officer for the Tongan Government Sefita Hao’uli believes the time has come to train workers to transition back to living permanently at home after finishing their time on the scheme.

Booze woes hurt Tonga's RSE standing

Radio Tonga reported that Sitiveni Uasi and Atonio Kulitapa were sent home for disappearing with a company vehicle.

The men disappeared from the Hastings farm where they were working last Monday and were found hundreds of kilometres away in Auckland a few days later.

Mr Kulitapa told the Kaniva website they regretted their actions, saying there was no reason for leaving but they were drunk at the time.

In February eight workers were ordered home after they broke their contracts by consuming alcohol and misbehaving.

New Zealand Government Responds to FIC Demands in the PACER Plus Negotiations

This responds positively to the demands of the Pacific Island Countries in the PACER Plus negotiations, which seek to enhance their participation in international trade. 

In June 2015, Australia took the unprecedented step in lifting the cap under the Seasonal Workers Program and extended it to the entire agriculture sector and to the accommodation sector in selected locations in the country.