19 Jan 2019

Horticultural industry and union at odds over migrant workers

6:02 pm on 19 January 2019

A fruit grower has disputed a union's claims that the government's seasonal employment scheme will leave migrants open to exploitation.

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The horticultural industry wants the government to allow more migrant workers, but FIRST Union's Denise Roche says more New Zealanders should be employed. Photo: 123rf

The horticultural industry claims there is a worker shortage and wants the government to increase the cap on visas allowed under the scheme.

But FIRST Union's Denise Roche said there was a history of exploitation and human trafficking in horticulture and more migrants would be vulnerable to exploitation under the scheme.

She said there was not a worker shortage and companies just needed to offer better pay and conditions to encourage New Zealanders into the industry.

Chief executive of New Zealand Apples and Pears, Alan Pollard, said employment arrangements between his growers and employees were stringently checked.

"If that audit fails, the customers will not accept our fruit. You've got to say there's a strong motivation to demonstrate really good social practice," Mr Pollard said.

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