Unskilled pruning of labour force is a rotten policy

The Government’s confirmation of the availability of Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from selected countries is not enough to fix its rotten approach to labour supply, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“Prior to the Delta Covid outbreak the Government announced the availability of RSE workers from certain countries.

“While the Government’s decision to approve some RSE workers may provide some token assistance, it won’t change the fundamental flaws in a labour supply policy that’s rotten to the core.

“For example, we see 15 per cent increases in labour costs in the kiwifruit industry, and an apple industry that still has a gap in the loss of the backpacker labour supply.

“The restricted labour supply market is a purposeful approach of redistribution of income from the grower to employees.

“The net effect is poorer yields, less investment, higher prices for consumers and the loss of international market delivery.

“The economic experiment of restricting a labour supply to achieve social change is doomed to rot on the vine.

“At a time when we are emphasising the move to environmentally-friendly products and the need for an export-led recovery, the misguided pruning of our horticulture sector will be a loss to all New Zealand.”