Seasonal workers

Seasonal workers from Pacific Islands gather to celebrate culture, identity and sport

People from the Pacific Islands have long been a part of the Riverland community, with many travelling far from home to take up seasonal work in the South Australian agricultural region.

However, COVID-19 has made that distance from home seem even further, with workers who were already in Australia before the pandemic hit forced to stay longer than expected.

As well, due to the labour shortage across Australia, 800 people from the Pacific Islands have come to the Riverland and quarantined for two weeks before heading out to work on properties across the region.

Employers urged to focus on health needs, housing for seasonal workers

The government will bring in 2000 Recognised Seasonal Employer, or RSE, workers into the country to help with harvests.

Growers must pay isolation facility costs for each worker and also pay them the living wage of just over $22 an hour.

The co-convenor of Komiti Pasefika, CTU, Caroline Mareko supports the changes to the programme restrictions and adds that increasing the living wage will make a big difference to families.

"It's great news this is happening," she said.

NZ horticulture sector hopeful of bringing Pacific workers back

Along with viticulture, the sector's usual system of employing Pacific Islanders under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme has been disrupted by the pandemic.

Pipfruit New Zealand's Trade Policy and Strategy spokesman Gary Jones says his sector is three or four thousand workers short.

He said growers believed they should be able to bring in workers from covid-free countries.

Jones said plans were in place to ensure workers who come for the seasonal work could get back home again.

Covid testing will not lead to penalties for invalid visa holders - NZ govt

Hundreds of seasonal workers have been stranded in New Zealand over recent months, some with expiring visas.

Pacific leaders had already raised concern about those with uncertain immigration status missing out on assistance or healthcare because of fear of being discovered.

However the minister, Chris Hipkins, encouraged them to get tested for Covid-19 if they needed to.

"We will not use the information collected through the Covid-19 testing process for other purposes, including for immigration purposes," Mr Hipkins said.

Stranded Pacific workers 'losing hope' of going home

More than 1500 workers from the Pacific who were due to return home in May are still in the region, and with the season officially over there is little paid work.

The mental health and wellbeing of 117 Samoan workers employed by Johnny Appleseed in Hastings was now the company's biggest concern, operations manager Len Thompson said.

"There's depression, anxiety, and there's anger. The problem is there is no day set for their return."

Fiji RSE workers list concerns with NZ work environment

Last month the Fiji government announced it had banned entire villages from taking part in the Recognised Seasonal Employer ccheme in New Zealand or the similar Australian scheme after complaints from the New Zealand government about misconduct and disorderly behaviour by some Fijian workers.

Now the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate, has met with some of the Fijian workers in this country to " hear their views of the challenges faced."

Seasonal farm workers receiving less than $10 a week after deductions, investigation reveals

The workers came to Australia in January as part of the Department of Employment's Seasonal Worker Program.

The group of 20 from Fiji, and others from Tonga, were taken to the caravan park in Merrigum, in the food bowl district of northern Victoria.

Australia hires seasonal workers from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru

Australian High Commissioner to Kiribati George Fraser told Radio Kiribati News there is now no maximum number of people required to work in Australia from Kiribati and other Pacific Island nations.

8,500 involved in NZ RSE scheme this year

Michael Woodhouse says it is the largest number since the scheme began eight years ago and reflects an excellent season for apples, kiwifruit, cherries and grapes.

He has told a conference in Apia he continues to be amazed at the impact the scheme has on the families involved.

Woodhouse told the employers the RSE scheme ensures a more stable and reliable workforce for New Zealand growers.

The Minister says a pilot involving Fijian workers for the first time has gone well and he expects many more from the country to be involved in subsequent years.