NATION

190 Fruit Pickers for Australia from January

The Ministry of Employment has sent 190 fruit pick­ers to Australia since January this year, under its Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. This has been made possible through approvals from two
06 Oct 2018 12:41
190 Fruit Pickers for Australia from January
Employment

The Ministry of Employment has sent 190 fruit pick­ers to Australia since January this year, under its Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

This has been made possible through approvals from two Australian farmers who were taking in ten to twenty work­ers for fruit picking in the orchards.

The scheme allows the horticulture and viticulture indus­tries to recruit workers from Fiji for seasonal work when there are not enough people in Australia and New Zealand.

Ministry of Employment assistant officer Sakeo Tale­maimaleya said most orchards were still stuck with the 2015 incidents where workers failed to adhere to their working condition.

“As seen in the orchards – the news spreads faster by mouth, farmers talk about it and our reputation will be spoiled, causing problems for others who wish to work in Australia or New Zealand,” Mr Talemaimaleya said.

He said the ministry was still trying to build the country’s reputation, at the same time competing with other island countries.

“We are marketing our workers with the Australian De­partment of Foreign Affairs, attending information ses­sions where we tell and prove to orchard owners that Fi­jian workers are responsible,” Mr Talemaimaleya said.

“There was an incident last year where a man showed up to work drunk. It can take years to build your reputation and seconds to destroy it.

“This is why the ministry is introducing seasonal work­ers to income-generation projects to show orchard owners that Fijian workers are responsible and the money they earned is used responsibly.

“During this workshop we invited a few stakeholders who will advise them on the types of grants available that they can access and become more successful.”

Mr Talemaimaleya said the ministry continued to advise workers about the scheme.

“There are a few participants who went to Australia more than two times for work because their employer wanted them. Employers in Australia are looking at the time and the effort they spent in training our seasonal workers,” he said.

“So they prefer to call back the same person to work for six months again for them.

“Our seasonal programme is always employer driven and most of the seasonal workers are from the North. These workers worked in farms across Australia for different companies to pick banana, grapes, oranges and sweet po­tatoes.”

Next month a group where ten from the North will leave for seasonal work in Australia to work on a sweet potato farm.

“Employers always make their preferences and over the years they have been minor issues which they themselves deal with immediately,” he said.

“Problems such as being unproductive and drinking. The farmers will talk to them like telling them you have to wake up early because in Australia time is money.”

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: nacanieli.tuilevuka@fijisun.com.fj

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