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HortNZ welcomes extension of SSE and Working Holiday visas

10 June 2021

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the Government’s decision to extend Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) and Working Holiday visas by six months. 

‘We’re pleased this decision has finally come out as we are losing workers on these visas to Australia,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘The horticulture industry is still struggling to get enough workers, as winter pruning gets underway and we start to look to next season and the spring harvests, especially asparagus and strawberries.’ 

These extensions come after months of advocacy by the horticulture industry collective, comprising NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, NZ Apples & Pears, Summerfruit NZ, NZ Winegrowers, NZ Ethical Employers and HortNZ. 

‘This season, there was an estimated shortfall of 5,000 workers at the height of apple and kiwifruit harvests,’ says Mike.  ‘The cost of this shortfall will become apparent in the coming months, as not all the crops were picked and quality was compromised.  In addition, productivity fell due to lower skill levels and the aptitude of a number of workers. 

‘We urgently need a Pacific bubble, which will enable the safe entry and exit of workers from the Pacific, using the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.  We believe that this can be achieved, with workers travelling from Covid-free countries in conjunction with appropriate controls outside of Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).

‘The Government has said it is committed to the RSE scheme’s future as this is such a beneficial scheme, not only for our growers and packers in New Zealand but for the Pacific.  This commitment needs to be urgently backed up by a Pacific bubble.’ 

 

Key facts:

  • Working Holiday visas expiring between 21 June and 31 December 2021 will automatically be extended for six months.
  • SSE work visas expiring between 21 June and 31 December 2021 will automatically be extended for six months with open work rights allowing them to work in any sector.
  • Anyone onshore who has previously held a temporary work visa will still be able to apply for a SSE work visa. New visas granted under this category will be restricted to work in the horticulture and viticulture sectors.
  • The median wage increase will apply to Essential Skills work visa applications, as well as Skilled Migrant Category residence applications and the Other Critical Worker border exception category.
  • The implementation of the stand-down period is being further postponed until July 2022. The stand-down period requires people on lower-paid Essential Skills work visas to leave New Zealand after a certain amount of time before they can apply for another lower-paid work visa.

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