Cyclone Gabrielle recently hit New Zealand, affecting various regions and causing damage to property and infrastructure. Among those potentially affected are Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers, who play a critical role in the horticulture and viticulture industry. In response to this, Immigration New Zealand has been working closely with employers, industry groups, and other agencies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of RSE workers across the country.
At present, there have been no reports of RSE workers being injured by the effects of the cyclone. The 12 RSE workers who were unaccounted for have been located and are being looked after. MBIE is also working with employers, industry groups, and other agencies to ensure support is provided to workers who have been affected by the weather events.
To help RSE workers in New Zealand, three of the bigger RSE nations have their Pacific liaison officers on the ground in the Hawkes Bay. Their role is to be the first point of contact for workers, employers, and government agencies, helping workers with queries around their welfare, employment rights and responsibilities, providing and coordinating pastoral care. They also keep their home governments informed of any worker issues, and facilitate the arrival and departure of RSE workers.
RSE workers will continue to receive a minimum of 30 hours per week at $22.10 per hour, and some workers in the Hawkes Bay have been able to resume or start work for RSE employers unaffected by the flooding. It is also within the scope of the RSE scheme for employees to be asked to undertake appropriate clean-up activities at their employer’s properties.
For RSE workers who are yet to arrive in New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand is making sure that their employer is able to provide employment, accommodation and meet their pastoral care requirements before they travel to New Zealand. They also know which RSE workers are due to arrive in New Zealand and where they are going to work. RSE workers going to unaffected regions of New Zealand are still able to arrive.
If RSE workers need help, they should contact their employer in the first instance, or their Pacific liaison person, or the local NEMA response person. The safety and wellbeing of RSE workers are of utmost importance, and we will continue to work closely with employers, industry groups, and other agencies to ensure they are looked after during this difficult time.