Cam­paign to re­cruit ki­wifruit labour to Bay

Te Puke Times - - NEWS -

The ki­wifruit in­dus­try is pre­dict­ing that a labour short­age is likely for the Bay of Plenty in 2019.

In 2018 the Bay of Plenty ki­wifruit in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­enced a se­vere labour short­age at har­vest with 1200 va­can­cies that couldn’t be filled.

To mit­i­gate the po­ten­tial short­age, New Zealand Ki­wifruit Grow­ers Inc. (NZKGI) is em­ploy­ing a labour co­or­di­na­tor and has launched a cam­paign to in­crease sea­sonal labour num­bers.

The aim of the new role is to at­tract ad­di­tional work­ers and in­crease the co­or­di­na­tion of avail­able labour for har­vest and win­ter prun­ing.

The role will also es­tab­lish sus­tain­able labour sources to sup­port the growth of the in­dus­try in the Bay of Plenty, where over 80 per cent of ki­wifruit is grown.

New Zealan­der­swill be given pri­or­ity to work, par­tic­u­larly peo­ple from Work and In­come. The labour co­or­di­na­tor role is funded by the Provin­cial Growth Fund, them­i­nistry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and New Zealand Ki­wifruit Grow­ers and is ex­pected to run through un­til the end of 2020.

“En­sur­ing a sus­tain­able sup­ply of labour is the ki­wifruit in­dus­try’s top pri­or­ity,” says NZKGI CEO Nikki John­son. “The grow­ing ap­petite for our high-qual­ity, great-tast­ing fruit, means we need more peo­ple to pick, pack and prune. Luck­ily the Bay of Plenty has some of the most beau­ti­ful beaches and is a very at­trac­tive area to come to work.”

In ad­di­tion to the labour co­or­di­na­tor role, the ki­wifruit in­dus­try has also re­cently launched an at­trac­tion cam­paign to at­tract more pick­ers and pack­ers to work in the Bay of Plenty be­tween April and June.

The cam­paign fo­cuses on back­pack­ers, re­tirees, stu­dents and the un­em­ployed and has al­ready start­ed­with ar­ti­cles aimed at back­pack­ers placed through­out Euro­pean me­dia. The cam­paign is sup­ported by ki­wifruit in­dus­try stake­hold­ers un­der the BOP Labour Gov­er­nance Group.

“New Zealand ki­wifruit pro­duc­tion­will in­crease from 123mil­lion trays in 2017 to 190 mil­lion trays by 2027. Tomeet this de­mand the in­dus­try will need more than 7000 ad­di­tional sea­sonal work­ers over the next 10 years,” says Nikki.

The in­creased labour de­mand stems from in­dus­try ex­pan­sion cou­pled with low un­em­ploy­ment as well as a lack of back­pack­ers and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

In ad­di­tion to the labour co­or­di­na­tor role and at­trac­tion strat­egy, NZKGI is work­ing on a range of other top­ics to im­prove the labour sit­u­a­tion. This in­cludes the con­sis­tency of sea­son­al­work, ac­com­mo­da­tion, wel­fare, trans­port and per­cep­tion of pay rates.

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