21 Jul 2010

Call for more effort to go into induction of Pacific seasonal workers in New Zealand

7:17 pm on 21 July 2010

The Tonga Advisory Council in New Zealand says more effort is still needed to thoroughly induct seasonal workers from the Pacific so they know their rights.

This follows a call by the Service and Food Workers Union for people coming to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme to be given more detailed agreements to ensure they aren't exploited.

The RSE scheme, which selects and hires people to come to New Zealand for seasonal employment in horticulture and viticulture, is due for a review next month.

The Council's Melino Maka says unfortunately RSE workers are often not fully aware of their rights under New Zealand labour law and can be taken advantage of.

"When you talk to the people, say for example from Tonga, they say that it is a lot of work to preparing workers , what to look out for, and what to avoid. But also you hear of the odd contractor trying to pull a fast one, knowing that these people might not complain."

Melino Maka says contractors who exploit workers and think they can get away with it are giving New Zealanders and the RSE scheme a bad name.