Seasonal work in Australia pays better than in New Zealand

16/06/2011

More than four years after New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme got off to a flying start, Australia’s own scheme is beginning to gather steam. Australia has been criticised for dragging its feet in implementing the scheme at a more intense level than it has been for the past couple of years.<!--more-->

Last month, a batch of nine seasonal workers from Papua New Guinea began to harvest almond in Robinvale, Victoria, as part of the pilot scheme first envisaged three years ago.

But seasonal workers from other island nations have already done stints in Australia and among them are 18 ni-Vanuatu workers who returned home after working for a full six month long harvesting season earlier this month.

Port Vila based recruiter John Salong says, this first experience of working on Australian farms has been extremely fulfilling to the workers, who want to go back to work this year as well.

According to the recruiting agent, higher wages and a better exchange rate mean seasonal workers in Australia earn nearly twice of what they make in similar jobs in New Zealand, where there are thousands of workers from the islands employed seasonally in farms throughout the country.

But as long as the pilot scheme is at work, Australia will not accept bigger numbers, unlike New Zealand, where the scheme has been mainstreamed for some time now and has been working quite well for both employers and workers.

Australia’s pilot scheme runs until June next year, which is when seasonal employers will be able to consider bringing in bigger numbers of workers, depending on the government’s assessment of feedback.

Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest has played a significant role in the run up to the implementation of the RSE scheme.

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