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Employers pen open letter to Minister in ‘desperation’

Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway must make good on his promise and announce the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme cap earlier than November as seasonal employers are crying out for help, National’s Immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“Mr Lees-Galloway assured businesses in April that he was looking to make a decision on the cap earlier this year but does not appear to honouring his assurances. When asked in Parliament yesterday when he would announce the cap, the best he could offer was ‘soon’. ‘Soon’ will not cut it for businesses who need certainty to plan for the upcoming picking seasons.

“Meanwhile, a dozen regional businesses have penned an open letter to the Minister, calling on him to announce the cap, signed ‘Yours in eternal hope and desperation’.

“Announcing the cap earlier and providing a two year allocation would allow businesses more time to plan and access workers sooner, so that sectors with earlier harvesting periods, such as strawberries and asparagus, can have greater certainty around their business operations. It would also allow businesses in the wine industry, who are the last cab off the rank for workers, more time to ensure they will have enough workers for winter pruning season.

“The Minister should also increase the cap by a minimum of 1,500 workers to ensure that businesses demands for more workers are met.

“Currently, regions such as Central Otago, Marlborough and Nelson don’t have access to enough workers locally to meet the demands of employers in those areas. Despite these workers shortages, these regions receive less of an allocation under the RSE scheme than regions with more accessibility to local labour. Workers should be allocated based on the needs of businesses and the availability of local labour, not on a regional basis.

“The process of allocating workers also needs to be more fair and transparent. Businesses have a right to know the exact criteria for how workers are allocated, and where they are allocated to. They should not have to deal with this unnecessary bureaucracy.”

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