Workers welcome if able to commit

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 12:01 04/08/2012

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Rebuilding Christchurch

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Any programme to bring Samoan construction workers to Christchurch for the rebuild must be long-lasting, an industry leader says.

Prime Minister John Key and his Samoan counterpart, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegao, discussed expanding the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Strategy in Apia on Wednesday.

The scheme enables Samoans to get seasonal horticulture and viticulture work in New Zealand.

"[We discussed] whether there might be opportunities to expand the scheme on a limited basis for trades, and that's a possibility in Christchurch," Key said.

But Canterbury Registered Master Builders Association president Clive Barrington said the RSE model would not suit the construction industry.

"We'd want people committing longer term. Six months isn't long enough," he said.

"You want some stability in the workforce."

Workers would be welcome if they were skilled and able to commit, he said.

"[We need] the basic construction skills - builders, structural steel workers, concrete workers," he said.

"Once this rebuild does crank up there'll be a shortage of everything, but it's a wee way off yet.

"Things are starting to pick up."

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said it was too early to talk about the details of any policy changes.

He said Immigration New Zealand was promoting applicants from the Samoan Quota -a ballot system for residency - to Canterbury employers struggling to fill vacancies.

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- The Press

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