11 Jun 2015

NZ unions focused on conditions around RSE

2:32 pm on 11 June 2015

The chief trade advisor for Pacific countries says New Zealand unions are open to greater labour mobility but not at the expense of lowering working conditions.

Edwini Kessie

Edwini Kessie Photo: Supplied

Edwini Kessie is leading a delegation to meet unions and trade bodies around the country.

Dr Kessie says the visit is designed to discuss PACER-plus negotiations and a possible extension of the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme.

He says Pacific countries are hoping to extend the RSE from the horticultural and viticultural sectors to other areas like aged care.

Dr Kessie says unions were not opposed to the idea but were also non-committal.

"They want guarantees from the government that there would be job development and also that there would be no exploitation of Pacific workers, meaning that basically that the same conditions, they don't want wages to be undercut, they don't want health and safety standards to be relaxed. These are their concerns."

Dr Kessie says he also tried to allay union concerns that PACER-plus negotiations were under pressure from Australia and New Zealand to the detriment of the Pacific countries.

  • 'Significant progress' made at PACER-Plus talks
  • Pacific interests 'core' to PACER-Plus