Pick up the phone
2 March 2022
There’s been some good news lately on labour and trade that will have a positive impact on next season and our industry’s future.
The Government has announced that the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme cap will increase from 14,400 RSE workers to 16,000. The increase will enable flights from the Pacific to continue into April, May and June, which will help meet employers' labour needs during these months.
The RSE labour collective will continue to keep RSE employers informed about the cap increase and what it means for them.
The signing of the UK-NZ free trade agreement is another positive sign for our export horticulture industry, even if the impact of the removal of tariffs will not be felt until next season.
In terms of this season, the next few weeks are going to be very tough. Many growers are reporting that they have less than half the labour that they need and in rural New Zealand, the full impact of Omicron is yet to be felt.
While you are all a hardy bunch, used to coping with unpredictable weather, the pressure on the industry from Covid is unprecedented.
That’s why I would like to encourage you all to stay connected and make sure you know how the grower next door or down the road is doing.
I would also like to encourage growers to pick up the phone, and take advantage of some of the wellbeing services available, no matter what time of the day or night it is.
The Rural Support Trust offers farmers and growers one on one, confidential help and advice. The trust operates 24/7 so growers and others in the industry call 0800 787 254 at any time.
The Rural Support Trust is made up of rural people who know first-hand the pressures of living of the land. They are approachable and proud of their record of helping farmers and growers, particularly after weather events.
An alternative is 1737 Need to talk? This 24/7 Government-funded service offers access to trained counsellors and further information on comprehensive support.
We’ll continue to lobby
HortNZ and other groups within the fruit and vegetable growing industry will continue to lobby the Government for the most pragmatic approach possible to the management of Covid. This is to maximise the number of workers available to growers, particularly during the apple and kiwifruit harvests over the coming months.
While the Government’s move to Phase 3 was a step in the right direction, we are still worried about the availability of rapid antigen tests (RATs) as a way to keep workers who don’t have Omicron at work.