20 October 2008
Contractors' press release shows need for New Zealand workforce strategy
An admission today from Rural Contractors New Zealand that the industry is discriminating against New Zealand workers strengthens the need for the development of a comprehensive workforce strategy in the horticulture and viticulture industry, CTU president Helen Kelly said today.
"To have contractors agree that the lack of guaranteed daily work means New Zealanders are not working in the industry, which then increases the demand for temporary migration, means that employment practices in the rural sector must be scrutinised before immigration is allowed to fill the gap."
"The CTU believes a range of factors make working in the industry unattractive to New Zealand workers including the insecurity of employment, low wages, high accommodation costs and lack of a career structure. While there is no one fix, the onus should be on employers to talk to unions about how the situation could be improved."
"Rural Contractors New Zealand appears to be arguing that the way to make the playing field even is to reduce protections for the migrant workers, for example by removing the guaranteed 30 hours per week employment."
"But this will simply leave the industry without any workers at all and will see Pacific workers coming here and being even more poorly treated than some of the practices that have been recently in the news," Helen Kelly said.