Marlborough vineyards praise migrant worker scheme
Vineyard contractors in New Zealand have praised the country’s Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme as the pruning season gets underway. The Labour Department confirmed this week that there are slightly more RSE workers in Marlborough this year than last year. The season starts in mid-May and finishes in September.
Marlborough Vine Works is manning its pruning operations this year with a mixture of local staff, RSE employees and backpackers. According to owner Aaron Jay, the RSE workers tend to be much more reliable than backpackers, who often behave like they are just in the country for a holiday. He added that RSE workers are a better investment so he would welcome more coming to Marlborough.
Mack Pouwhare of Grapeworx Marlborough said he has employed around 150 workers from Thailand this year, the majority of whom have worked on the farm before. Mr Pouwhare explained that, although it was difficult integrating the first group of RSE workers they received, the ones who come back year-on-year help to keep training costs down.
However, Ron Floyd from Floyd Viticultural said he relies on backpackers as the paperwork involved in hiring RSE workers is not worth it for a small operation. He conceded however that without the scheme, the industry would suffer a great labour shortage.
The interviews were given to the Marlborough Express.
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