Seasonal workers

Ardern announces RSE workers allowed one-way quarantine-free travel

In a post-Cabinet media briefing Monday afternoon, Ardern announced Cabinet had made the decision to allow Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from those countries to travel one way, without using MIQ.

The countries this would apply to reflected the fact all three nations had experienced very few cases of Covid-19, she said. Tonga had seen zero Covid-91 cases, Samoa just one, and Vanuatu had four - all those cases having been at the border with no community transmission.

Seasonal workers from Pacific Islands gather to celebrate culture, identity and sport

People from the Pacific Islands have long been a part of the Riverland community, with many travelling far from home to take up seasonal work in the South Australian agricultural region.

However, COVID-19 has made that distance from home seem even further, with workers who were already in Australia before the pandemic hit forced to stay longer than expected.

As well, due to the labour shortage across Australia, 800 people from the Pacific Islands have come to the Riverland and quarantined for two weeks before heading out to work on properties across the region.

Employers urged to focus on health needs, housing for seasonal workers

The government will bring in 2000 Recognised Seasonal Employer, or RSE, workers into the country to help with harvests.

Growers must pay isolation facility costs for each worker and also pay them the living wage of just over $22 an hour.

The co-convenor of Komiti Pasefika, CTU, Caroline Mareko supports the changes to the programme restrictions and adds that increasing the living wage will make a big difference to families.

"It's great news this is happening," she said.

NZ horticulture sector hopeful of bringing Pacific workers back

Along with viticulture, the sector's usual system of employing Pacific Islanders under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme has been disrupted by the pandemic.

Pipfruit New Zealand's Trade Policy and Strategy spokesman Gary Jones says his sector is three or four thousand workers short.

He said growers believed they should be able to bring in workers from covid-free countries.

Jones said plans were in place to ensure workers who come for the seasonal work could get back home again.

Seasonal workers to return on Tonga repatriation flight from Christchurch

The passengers will be made up of 25 females and 116 males.

The National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) met Monday afternoon at Makeke Camp and confirmed the number of the passengers.

All returning passengers will be escorted to Makeke Camp at Vaini, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

In the meantime, NEMC is planning to bring the next repatriation flight from Auckland, New Zealand as well as the first repatriation flight from Brisbane, Australia by the end of next month.


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Covid testing will not lead to penalties for invalid visa holders - NZ govt

Hundreds of seasonal workers have been stranded in New Zealand over recent months, some with expiring visas.

Pacific leaders had already raised concern about those with uncertain immigration status missing out on assistance or healthcare because of fear of being discovered.

However the minister, Chris Hipkins, encouraged them to get tested for Covid-19 if they needed to.

"We will not use the information collected through the Covid-19 testing process for other purposes, including for immigration purposes," Mr Hipkins said.

Stranded Pacific workers 'losing hope' of going home

More than 1500 workers from the Pacific who were due to return home in May are still in the region, and with the season officially over there is little paid work.

The mental health and wellbeing of 117 Samoan workers employed by Johnny Appleseed in Hastings was now the company's biggest concern, operations manager Len Thompson said.

"There's depression, anxiety, and there's anger. The problem is there is no day set for their return."

Tongan seasonal workers in Australia continue working

Tonga’s liaison officer in Australia, Sione Vaka, told Kaniva News all Seasonal Worker Programme employees’ visas had been extended for up to 12 months.

Vaka said Tongan workers had not been charged for the extension.

He said employers were making sure employees would not be infected with the virus.

He said the Australian government had directed all employers to make sure their workers had work to do during the lockdown to help their families in Tonga.

All states were on lockdown, but the workers were exempted because they were doing essential services.

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.

Tonga earns US$45m a year from seasonal work

The Minister of Internal Affairs 'Akosita Lavulavu made the statement at the recent presentation for a programme for former seasonal workers who were interested in starting businesses in Tonga.

Mrs Lavulavu told Radio Tonga the Ministry was willing to invest in similar programs to help seasonal workers living in communities in the outer islands as well.

Bea Duffield from Australian Business Volunteers who facilitated the training said the programme was important and could help participants and contribute to the local economy.