Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.
Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.
“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says.
“Members who are registered with RCNZ will now be able to apply to bring in overseas workers under our umbrella, rather than go through all the hoops and hurdles they currently have to as individuals.”
Steve Levet describes the new scheme as great news for the sector and believes it will streamline and simplify the whole process of bringing in overseas workers – rather than the current rigmarole agricultural contractors currently have to endure.
The new scheme will see RCNZ applying for an Approval in Principle (AIP) on behalf of all members of the national body and contractors. Contractors will then be able to apply online for a visa for the person being recruited – without having to advertise, go to WINZ or any the other requirements currently causing so much difficulty.
“As RCNZ will hold the AIP, there are a number of responsibilities placed on us and it will be important that all those contractors who wish to use this scheme comply with all these conditions and requirements,” Mr Levet explains.
“For starters, there will need to be a written contract between RCNZ and each member company participating in the scheme – to ensure each knows their responsibilities and that RCNZ and other member companies are protected. If these conditions are not complied with, the AIP can be rescinded.”
These conditions include that the AIP is only available members of RCNZ and that the contractor or company must also hold Registered Contractor accreditation with national body.
“This is a safeguard to ensure that the appropriate statutory and regulatory compliances are being met,” Mr Levet explains. “Those applying to the scheme will also have to fully comply with RCNZ’s Code of Ethics and our Code for Employing Overseas Staff.”
Mr Levet adds that – due to the amount of the work involved in setting up the new scheme and the imminent start of the new season – RCNZ aims to have it up and running by 1 June 2016.
It is not known exactly how many temporary, overseas workers are needed by rural contractors around each year, but it is thought to be around 900.
“Every year, in many parts of the country, it’s often impossible for rural contractors to find skilled New Zealanders to carry out this seasonal work,” Mr Levet explains. “That’s why it is necessary for us to look overseas to find experienced people to fill this need.”