The number of Fijians working under the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Scheme has been growing annually with total number expected to increase to 60 in 2019 from the initial 12 in 2015.
Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations permanent secretary, Osea Cawaru, while meeting two employer representatives of the RSE scheme, Heather Burton and Ms Penny Gibson, this week, welcomed their acknowledgement of the contribution by Fijian seasonal workers.
Burton is the General Manager Human Resource for EastPack Limited, one of the first employers to pilot the seasonal work program and has been recruiting seasonal workers from Fiji since 2015.
The employer representatives acknowledged the contributions of the Fijian workers and the positive impact these workers have made towards the overall success of the company.
Discussions also touched on some of the challenges faced such as behaviour and alcohol-related issues.
Cawaru assured them of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the challenges highlighted are addressed as early as possible and that the good performance of Fijian workers are not tarnished by the poor performance and behaviour of a few workers.
The total number of workers recruited by East Pack Ltd has been increasing over the years from the initial 12 workers in 2015 and rose to 56 workers in 2018.
The 2019 season will see this number increased again to 60 workers comprising of 17 new workers and 43 returning workers
The 43 returning workers were again selected by the employer this year due to their excellent work performance and attitude.
“These workers will be engaged in kiwi fruit harvesting, orchard work which includes but not limited to pruning, thinning, picking, stringing, planting and driving. Also pack-house work which includes but not limited to packing, stacking, grading, tray preparation, bin tip, forklift driving (drivers), line sampling and reject analysis,” Cawaru added.
Cawaru, while thanking the employer for the employment opportunity, said he looks forward to a long and fruitful partnership between the Fijian Government and the New Zealand Government and also between the Employment Ministry and EastPack Limited.
He added that his team will work closely with the New Zealand mission here in Suva to secure more seasonal work employers under the scheme.
The 60 workers are from the Provinces of Ra, Rewa, Tailevu, Ba, Lomaiviti, Kadavu, Serua and Namosi.
East Pack Ltd is the largest recruiter of Fijian workers under the RSE work scheme from 2015 to 2018 and has grown to become the largest post-harvest service provider with some of the most sophisticated equipment in the industry.