The Green Party is calling on the Government to ensure all people working in horticulture are paid liveable wages and have access to quality accommodation.
“While the Government’s move to require employers to pay a living wage to RSE workers is a step in the right direction, the rights for local workers and the broader structural issues within the horticultural industry remain unaddressed,” said Green Party Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Jan Logie.
“We are particularly concerned about growing inequities for local horticulture workers, as well as migrant workers stranded here because of the pandemic, who continue to be on minimum wage contracts.
“This is another reason the Government needs to move quickly on Fair Pay Agreements and ensure industry planning includes a workforce perspective.
“We have heard that some companies in the horticulture industry may be using potentially unlawful, casual contracts for local and migrant workers that are not in the RSE category. These contracts without an end date can result in workers not having guaranteed hours or pay during rainy days. The industry needs to be providing fair, fixed term contracts with guaranteed hours.
“It is concerning that the Government is subsidising a $10 billion dollar industry to provide worker accommodation. It should be the industry’s own responsibility to provide decent conditions for its workers, including accommodation if they need it.”
Green Party Pacific Peoples spokesperson Teanau Tuiono said: “New Zealand has a long history of exploiting horticulture workers from the Pacific. Requiring higher wages for some RSE workers and not for Pacific workers already in New Zealand downplays the important contributions of Pacific horticulture workers who are already working here.”
Green Party Social Development and Employment spokesperson Ricardo Menendez March said: “Providing year-long employment in the horticulture industry is possible. The Government should be taking a more proactive approach to connecting horticulture workers to employers, to guarantee year-long employment.
“All horticulture workers deserve decent wages, safe working conditions and quality accommodation.”