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Key Stakeholders Cooperate On Labour Issues

Key Stakeholders Cooperate On Labour Issues

At a meeting in Blenheim on 21 July 2005, key stakeholders in the Marlborough viticulture sector unanimously agreed to cooperate on actions to address the local labour shortage. The viticulture sector is currently in the middle of pruning season and the shortage of labour in the region has raised a number of issues and concerns.

The meeting was called by the national wine industry organisation, New Zealand Winegrowers, with support from the Department of Labour and the Ministry for Social Development. Over 80 people attended, representing:

- labour contractors;

- winegrowers;

- workers and unions;

- accommodation and training providers;

- local Council;

- Department of Labour (including the New Zealand Immigration Service, and OSH);

- Ministry of Social Development (including Work and Income).

Low regional and national unemployment, accommodation issues, illegal workers, cost and wage structures, immigration programmes, training, working conditions and worker retention were among the many issues discussed.

All those present agreed to work together on immediate actions to address the current labour shortage. They also agreed that medium and long term actions should be fed into the two ongoing industry-Government initiatives: the Marlborough Viticulture Advisory Group and the national Seasonal Labour Strategy.

An Action Group was formed to take the immediate actions forward. The Group is comprised of: Dr John Barker from New Zealand Winegrowers; winegrower Stuart Smith; viticulturalist Mike Croad; contractor Tere Poa; Steve MacManus from the Amalgamated Workers Union; Bob Lee, Chairman of the Marlborough Contractors Association; Claire Brown from the Ministry of Social Development; and Richard Whatman from the Department of Labour.

The Action Group agreed on several priorities, including a survey of labour needs for the rest of the pruning season to mid-September, a study to benchmark pruning costs, promotional activities to attract new employees to the region, and a template on employers’ obligations to support legal compliance. Accommodation options are also being explored.

Action Group spokesperson, Dr. John Barker, said he was very pleased that all those affected by the labour shortage have come together in such a positive way. “The issues surrounding the shortage of pruners in Marlborough are very complex and cannot be resolved by growers, contractors or Government agencies acting in isolation. We now have the key stakeholders working together to develop both immediate and longer term solutions at the regional and national levels,” he said.


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