OPINION: Rural NZ is again getting the rough end of the stick when it comes to services - this time in relation to Covid-19 vaccinations.
The Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) visa will be automatically given to working holiday visa holders in New Zealand with visas expiring between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The Government says these visas will allow them to work in horticulture and viticulture roles, where there are not enough New Zealanders available to do this work.
“This season we expect more Kiwis, who have lost jobs due to COVID-19, will be available to work in these sectors, but it is likely there will be a shortfall of workers as these industries have often relied on migrants for their seasonal peaks,” said Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi.
“Therefore, people in New Zealand with expiring working holiday visas will be able to stay here to fill short-term horticulture and viticulture roles,” said Faafoi.
Employers can take on these workers when there are unfilled Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme spaces with an RSE employer, or there are unfilled roles available with an accredited SSE employer.
Employers will also be able to take on SSE workers for roles in regions specified on a list which the Ministry of Social Development is currently compiling.
Government changes will also enable other work visa holders to apply for an SSE visa if they have a job offer from one of these employers or if the job is on the Ministry of Social Development list.
In addition, all RSE scheme workers stranded in New Zealand who have been granted a more flexible limited visa to be able to work part-time and do non-RSE work will be able to ‘re-enter’ the RSE scheme and work for an RSE employer with 30 hours per week average pay guaranteed.
Faafoi said the Government remained committed to the RSE scheme.
“We know many RSE workers are stranded in New Zealand because of COVID-19. These changes will provide certainty and options for these people, and we expect RSE workers will have priority for any seasonal work that cannot be filled by New Zealanders.
“Our borders are closely controlled in order to keep COVID-19 out. While only a small number of migrants can arrive in New Zealand, the Government is enabling the remaining migrant workforce to stay on. This will go a long way to support the labour needs of the horticulture and viticulture industries.
“RSE workers offshore will be able to return and work in New Zealand when it is safe to do so.
“The RSE scheme is part of our special relationship with the Pacific and is a win-win for us and our Pacific neighbours. It helps ensure our horticulture and viticulture industries are productive, and the scheme supports Pacific Island economies through remittances,” said Faafoi.