Government announces 3000 additional RSE workers

Source: 1News

The Government has announced they are providing an additional 3000 places for the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

This brings the total number of RSE workers allowed in the country per year to 19,000, the largest increase in over a decade.

The scheme will allow more workers from participating Pacific countries to work in the horticulture and wine industries, sectors which have struggled to attract workers. It's an increase of 19% from the previous season's cap.

The Government also announced RSE workers will also now be entitled to sick leave.

It comes amid concerns raised earlier this year over the living conditions experienced by Pacific migrant workers.

RSE workers were reportedly living in overcrowded, unsafe conditions and repeatedly falling ill as a result. Allegations of workers being unfairly charged for accommodation by employers had also emerged.

Immigration Minister Michael Wood told reporters today that the Government was working to stamp out exploitation within the RSE scheme.

He said today's announcement came on the back of unions and employers "working together to improve conditions".

Wood said the Government is looking to trial roving workplace representatives in some regions that can bring up any issues and concerns, saying employees' wellbeing was a "priority".

“We continue to work urgently with the industry and unions on further short-term improvements and employee safe guards to provide greater protections to workers."

File: Fruit orchard in Hawke's Bay.

Agriculture Minster Damien O'Connor said today's announcement is a "balanced" approach to provide workforce relief.

"The RSE scheme is not designed to completely fill all roles in the horticulture and viticulture industries.

"This cap maintains pressure on RSE employers to continue recruiting New Zealanders where possible."