Friday, December 8, 2023

Foreign worker application frustrates RCNZ

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The Government has rejected a bulk application from the Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) on behalf of its members to bring in foreign workers to reduce staff shortages this spring.
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Roger Parton | September 09, 2020 from GlobalHQ on Vimeo.

Instead, it has insisted that it is up to each individual contracting business to apply if it needs these workers.

This is despite the Association being granted an Approval In Principle (AIP) from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to allow workers into the country in the past, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

This AIP grants permission by INZ to recruit overseas staff.

“If you have 58 contractors who want 200-odd workers then that’s 58 applications and 58 fees,” he said.

To call it frustrating was an understatement, he added.

“The mind boggles. There has to be easier ways,” he said.

Parton said he understood INZ was struggling to cope with the flood of applications from employers for foreign staff and rejected an opportunity to streamline the process.

The Association did not want to short-circuit the system but streamline it to make it easier for both parties.

Weather forecasters prediction of a likely La Nina weather pattern this spring will mean above average temperatures and normal levels of rainfall. This could mean a busy spring as farmers look to get grass silage cut and baled and summer crops planted in the ground.

He said the industry will still experience worker shortages, despite its best efforts to train and recruit new staff. While training new staff to drive the machinery had helped, it was no substitute for experience.

“I think there are a number of contractors who are going to have problems and as a result, there’s going to be a number of farmers who may not get the service they would like to get for this year,” he said.

The estimated shortfall as a result remained at 28 million tonnes of feed, worth about $110 million.

“We also have a number of contractors estimating a 35% downturn in income, which will restrict their ability to employ New Zealanders,” he said.

Parton said he was recently contacted by someone, who would be normally working overseas harvesting in Canada if not for the covid-19 lockdown, looking for work.

“We have had several of those – people who have either done baling or want to do baling and we are filling slots wherever we can with whatever we can get,” he said.

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