Support for RSE scheme by NZ Wine employers

By Cathie Bell, in the Marlborough Express 5 September 2013; and

All employers who used the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme believe the benefits of it outweigh the costs, a report shows.

The results, published in a Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry report last month, show that over the five years a survey has been done, support from employers has risen from 57 per cent in 2008 to 100 per cent last year.
Almost all RSE employers agreed that participation in the programme had resulted in:

Better quality and more productive workers (99 per cent, up from 59 per cent in 2008).

A more stable workforce than in previous years (97 per cent, up from 81 per cent in 2008).

The report said that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of RSE employers reported having extended their area of cultivation since 2007. Of those, 86 per cent said participation in the scheme had been a factor encouraging this expansion.

The survey questioned 262 viticulture and horticulture employers throughout New Zealand, either online or by telephone. The 262 employers were made up of :

78 registered employers/contractors who have employed seasonal workers under the RSE scheme.

33 employers/contractors who, while not being a recognised seasonal employer, sourced RSE workers through another means.

151 employers/contractors who have not employed seasonal workers under the RSE scheme.

The report said last year's survey found that RSE employers were significantly more likely than other types of employers to identify February through June as the peak period for their labour supply needs. Demand for seasonal workers was particularly high in February and March.

It found that 91 per cent of RSE employers reported having employed Pacific workers through the RSE scheme in the past year, employing an average of 63 Pacific workers per employer, a similar result to last year's survey.

RSE employers also sourced seasonal workers extensively from other sources, the report said, with 95 per cent employing seasonal workers from Work and Income and 100 per cent sourcing seasonal workers locally.

For their next season, more than half (57 per cent) of RSE employers would prefer a mix of returning and new workers from the same countries they recruited from now, a steady increase from just 14 per cent in 2008.

The report said that among those RSE employers who had participated in more than one survey between 2008 and 2012, on average each was recruiting 13 more Pacific workers in 2012 than they were at the time of their first survey.

Ratings of Pacific workers in 2012 were much the same. Dependability and enthusiasm have not changed significantly, but productivity is seen more positively.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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