New Zealand contractors urge common sense in overseas worker rules

Published:  17 Jul at 6 PM
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A New Zealand contractors’ association is calling for an injection of common sense into visa and immigration rules for temporary overseas workers, saying the present rules are harming its members’ businesses.

With the movement of labour across the world increasing year by year, many overseas workers are looking to head for New Zealand to work in seasonal jobs across the country. Employers are complaining that the complexity of temporary work visas and a total lack of skilled local workers is combining to ruin their businesses.

Rural Contractors NZ president Steve Levet says that the chronic shortage of suitable local staff means that employers have no option but to use skilled overseas workers. Most come from Ireland and the UK, arriving each season as temporary employees and leaving when the season is over.

Current employment and immigration laws, he continues, are causing expensive delays and unnecessary headaches. He adds that, unless the position is on NZ Immigration’s skilled worker list, the job must be advertised widely and placed with Work and Employment NZ (WINZ).

According to Leven, most of the local job seekers sent by WINZ are totally unsuitable due to lack of skills and work ethics. He believes that a dose of reality between NZ Immigration and WINZ is badly needed, as employers cannot take on locals without skills or experience to operate expensive, high-tech machinery.

He is particularly annoyed that NZ immigration restrictions prevent skilled temporary workers familiar with the jobs and the machines from returning every year. His reason is that regular annual workers already know the country and the job, and are able to start operations the minute they arrive.
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