RSE conference to be held in Blenheim to celebrate 10-year anniversary of migrant scheme
A conference to mark the 10th anniversary of a migrant labour scheme crucial to the success of the Marlborough wine industry is being held in Blenheim on Thursday.
The Horticulture New Zealand-organised conference on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme runs over two days at the Marlborough Convention Centre.
The RSE scheme was established in 2007 to provide economic assistance to the Pacific Islands while filling a need for seasonal labour in New Zealand.
A Wine Marlborough-commissioned report, released last year, found RSE-accredited contractors serviced about 75 per cent of the vineyard estate in Marlborough.
* Support for RSE scheme
* Employers hiring Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme workers hit with improvement notices for employment law breaches
* Pacific Island workers crucial for Central Otago orchard
The conference, which has the theme 'Resilient, Sustainable, Ethical', features a wide-ranging programme of speakers including several Government ministers.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, and Trade Minister Todd McClay are all speaking at the event.
The conference was described as a celebration of the success of the RSE scheme, and a chance to focus on what was needed to make it successful in the future.
It follows investigations and comments from the Labour Inspectorate about worker exploitation in Marlborough vineyards and the degrading effect it has on the reputation of the industry.
However, figures released by the inspectorate showed there had only been three improvement notices issued to RSE employers over the past five years in the region.
Horticulture New Zealand national seasonal labour co-ordinator Jerf van Beek said the conference was closed to media.
Attendees wanted to be able to speak in an open manner, he said.
- The Marlborough Express