18 Jul 2013

Rural contractors want easier process for foreign workers

7:02 pm on 18 July 2013

Rural contractors are calling on Immigration New Zealand to make it easier for skilled foreign workers to come back into the country each season to help with harvest.

Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet says about 3000 skilled drivers and machinery operators, who are typically from Ireland and England, come here to help with harvest each year.

Mr Levet says rural contractors struggle to find suitable staff in the domestic labour pool - partly due to the seasonal nature of the work which can last for just two months and also because of the highly specialised nature of the farm machinery being used.

But he says Immigration New Zealand is making contractors jump through too many hoops to bring back their skilled drivers from abroad.

Mr Levet says it's relatively easy to get people into New Zealand the first time, but it becomes increasingly difficult to get the same people back for two, three or four years in a row.

He says the compliance cost and time factor means the process is quite expensive.

Mr Levet says rural contractors are finding it harder and harder to bring back contractors who have built up valuable local knowledge.