Pacific seasonal workers

Labour migration expert says Pacific seasonal workers reluctant to complain

The comments from Australian National University's Dr Rochelle Bailey come after a number of Pacific island workers appeared at a federal parliamentary inquiry into allegations of worker abuse under the Pacific Labour Mobility scheme.

Speaking at the inquiry, Vanuatu worker Sergio said conditions became so bad on his farm that he and some other workers stayed at home on strike for a week.

"I called the union to come and help us to buy the food," Sergio told the inquiry.

[My employer] come in and forced us to go to work and I said 'No'."

New wage regulations welcomed by Pacific seasonal workers

Australia's Fair Work Commission announced last week that employers would be required to pay seasonal workers a mandatory minimum piece rate of AUD$25.41 an hour.

The President of the Tonga Australia Seasonal Workers Association Falepaini Maile said they look forward to the pay rise scheduled for April 28th.

"Workers are quite happy. When we put the article up on our Tonga Australia Seasonal Workers Association Facebook page, some of them were commenting and said why don't they start now, so they're desperate for when the increase will start," he said.


Pandemic presents big challenges for Pacific seasonal workers

New Zealand has a new one-way travel bubble with Pacific island countries such as Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga.

Vaccinated RSE workers from these countries can come to New Zealand without self-isolating or taking Covid-19 tests on arrival, after the one-way quarantine-free travel took effect last week.

Up to 5,000 workers are needed across the horticulture and viticulture industries during peak summer season in December and January.

The usual supply of backpackers to New Zealand's recognised seasonal workers scheme remains cut off due to Covid-19 border restrictions.

Rewarding work for returning Pacific seasonal labour?

The Study, involving more than 480 research participants, examined some of the RSE scheme’s social and economic impacts in six New Zealand communities and in five participating Pacific countries. It was completed in early 2020 and provides a pre-COVID perspective on impacts of RSE participation.

Call for NZ to turn to Pacific for more seasonal workers

The chair of the PCF, John Fiso, said New Zealand could provide financial support for Pacific people who were suffering because their economies were tanking, while also ensuring the valuable fruit crop was harvested.

One estimate is that New Zealand is 60,000 workers short this season.

Fiso said he could understand the government's wish that unemployed New Zealanders step in, but he said there were also other issues to consider.

Pacific countries U-turn on seasonal work arrangements

The countries had been seeking a legally binding agreement on labour mobility as part of negotiations around a new trade deal, PACER- Plus.

Meetings on Pacific labour mobility arrangements with Australia and New Zealand, which give unskilled workers from Pacific Island countries seasonal work visas, were held last week in New Zealand ahead of the latest rounds of talks on PACER-Plus.

At the meeting all parties agreed to have the respective Australian and New Zealand labour mobility schemes remain under non-legally binding arrangements.

Katherine growers look to Pacific Seasonal Worker Programme because of backpacker tax concerns

The tax, set to come into effect in July, will see people on working holiday visas taxed at 32.5 per cent from the first dollar they earn.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said he would raise growers' on-going concerns about the tax at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments meeting.

Katherine farmer Peter Marks hired Pacific Islanders to pick mangoes last year, with backpackers in the packing shed, but was “in a state of concern” about whether he would be able to find enough workers for the upcoming harvest.