Monday, September 1, 2008
Marlborough winegrowers accused of mistreating foreign labour...
Marlborough winegrowers are being accused of putting the seasonal work scheme in jeopardy.
Growers says while the policy of employing people from the Pacific region has helped to solve a shortage of workers, the associated costs are too high. Growers claim they have to pay half their workers' airfares and in some cases, have to wash their clothes because the employees do not know how to use modern appliances.
Helen Kelly from the Council Of Trade Unions says in light of recent stories about the appalling treatment of the workers, the growers' calls for more support are outrageous. She says the scheme was set up to support the horticultural industry at a time of labour shortage and employers need to measure up. Ms Kelly alleges some wine makers are charging exorbitant rates and deducting all sorts of costs from workers' wages to boost profits.
Up to 5,000 workers from Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu can come to New Zealand on seasonal annual permits to work in horticulture and viticulture jobs.
If employers want to use overseas labour, they should stick to their agreements and treat their employees in the same way they would have to treat New Zealanders. If it is true they are treating their employers badly, it is despicable and they should be excluded from such schemes in the future.
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