Fruit worker claims and counter claims while the virus rages – RSE weekly roundup

by | Apr 1, 2022 | News

Industry leader Seeka in war of words

Pay rates of up to $60 per hour and incentives such as cash bonuses, prizes and free transport, accommodation and food are being offered to lure kiwifruit pickers to an industry experiencing its “toughest-ever season”, Stuff reported this week.

‘Total nonsense’, says FIRST Union, whose representatives are currently in collective bargaining with industry leader Seeka. According to the union, negotiations have revealed that most workers are still on low wages. “Most Seeka workers have not even received a pay increase in line with inflation this year.” says Anita Rosentreter, FIRST Union Strategic Project Coordinator.

Unfortunately the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that major Covid-19 outbreaks have hit pack-houses and shared accommodation facilities for RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) workers.

 

Omicron has ‘Major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking season peaks, reports RNZ

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400. It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Some other growers across the country told RNZ this was a far harder season than 2021 and 2022. They had 10 to 15 percent of their workers off due to Covid-19, and were still far behind on expected RSE numbers due to pandemic disruptions and natural disasters in the Pacific Islands.

On March 22, new daily Covid-19 cases reached a new record in Hawke’s Bay as a whole, with 1243 cases and 43 people in hospital. It is the region with the second-highest hospitalisation rate per 100,000 people outside of Auckland.

Nelson-Marlborough also reached a new daily record yesterday, with 691 reported cases. The area now has over 3200 cases.

 

Vaccine Pass requirements end a huge risk for employers, says Besafe

The end of vaccine pass requirements next week creates a dilemma and heightened risk for employers who are responsible for keeping their workers safe, warns Auckland health and safety training provider Besafe.

Jason Braithwaite, the General Manager, Besafe Training, suggests New Zealand business owners to conduct workplace risk assessments ahead of April 4, which marks the end of vaccine pass and QR code requirements.

“If you rush into abandoning vaccine passes and a staff member catches Omnicom, and then goes on to develop long Covid – losing their ability to work as a result – there is a case to be made that perhaps their employer didn’t do enough to protect them.

Braithwaite recommends the following precautionary steps, followed by a weekly review of pandemic protocols, depending on your workplace risk levels:
1. Conduct a workplace risk assessment
2. Put in place controls
3. Review

“Covid is a workplace risk, and as such employers are responsible for conducting a risk assessment. Worksafe and the Employment Relations Authority could take a dim view of an employer who failed, at the very least, to conduct a proper workplace risk assessment”, he says.

For more information visit https://besafetraining.co.nz/   Addtional source: Scoop

Photo credits: Sokmean Nou and VD Photography on Unsplash

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