Samoan workers welcome if they commit long term
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key met with Samoan PM Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Maleilegao on Wednesday to discuss expanding the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.
The discussion between the two leaders took place in Apia and related to the need for Samoan construction workers to help rebuild the earthquake-shattered South Island city of Christchurch. At present, the RSE scheme only applies to short-term vinicultural and horticultural immigrant workers, although it could be expanded to employ longer-term construction workers.
According to Key, the proposition was discussed between the two PMs as a means to step up the regeneration of South Island’s premier city. He said that a limited extension of the scheme to include tradespeople experienced in building work could be put in place.
However, the president of the Canterbury Registered Master Builders’ Association, Clive Barrington, stated his concerns, saying that workers would be welcome if they were able to commit to longer term employment, but a six-month term was not enough. He added that a longer term work visa would provide essential stability in the workplace.
Workers in skilled trades needed include structural steel workers, concrete workers and builders, Barrington said, adding that once the rebuild gears up there will be a shortage of many skills as well as materials. He confirmed the process was beginning to gather momentum, but said there was a way to go yet.
According to immigration Minister Nathan Guy, it’s too soon to discuss details of any policy changes as at present Immigration New Zealand is promoting the Samoan Quota residency ballot system to employers in Canterbury who are having problems filling vacancies. It seems Christchurch will have to back-pedal on its rebuilding for a while longer.
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