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Seeka’s labour shortage

SEEKA has announced 300 vacant kiwifruit positions across orchard and post-harvest packing facilities in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Northland.

Company chief executive, Michael Franks, said the usual flow of people to work for them in their eight facilities across those areas of the North Island had been impacted.

“The number of backpackers through our doors is low, and a significant portion of our experienced Recognised Seasonal Employee (RSE) scheme employees have been restricted from departing their country,” he said.

The Herald was told during the week that while labour supply was “a challenge” in Tairawhiti, they had been coping so far.

Mr Franks said that 135 RSE workers scheduled from Malaysia for the BoP, Coromandel and Northland operations, had been restricted with their Government closing their borders for both inbound and outbound travellers.

“Sensibly, the New Zealand Government allowed those vacancies to be filled with workers from the Pacific Islands but even with those workers, Seeka is 300 short and the labour shortage is acute.

“While we look to employ New Zealanders first and foremost, we also need to find other sources of workers such as backpackers and those from the RSE scheme as the harvesting and packing window of kiwifruit is relatively short.

“We are open to new solutions, and given there are local tourism and forestry businesses affected by Covid-19 who may be having difficulties keeping staff employed, working in the kiwifruit industry for a short term could be beneficial for everyone. We ask anyone looking for work to get in touch.”

Here in Gisborne, the harvest has been in full flow for a fortnight, as the crop had been brought on by the hot, dry summer. NZ Fruits, for example, will be halfway through their harvest next week.