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Minister Lautafi shares about benefits of R.S.E.

More than 200 recognised seasonal employment (R.S.E.) employers and growers from New Zealand, academia, training providers, financial institutions and officials from Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (M.B.I.E.) New Zealand were part of the 12th RSE conference.

Held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, the theme of the conference is “Building and strengthening Recognized Seasonal Employment Pacific Families for a sustainable future”. 

Samoa was represented by its Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.), Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, C.E.O. of M.C.I.L, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, and Samoa’s RSE Liaison Officer, Lemalu Nele Leilua.  

Lautafi spoke on the topic RSE from wider Pacific Perspective

He highlighted the triple win benefits of the RSE scheme that are now experienced by the communities in Samoa and other participating countries; as well as for the horticulture and viniculture industries of New Zealand, thus an increase in the RSE cap was recommended. 

Lautafi reiterated the importance of effective pastoral care, health and safety support for all RSE workers while in New Zealand; and that exploitation in any form will not be tolerated. 

The need for strengthening capacity building opportunities beyond RSE for Pacific workers under the Vakameasina program and other initiatives was also raised. 

Lautafi called on all RSE stakeholders for “more active engagement in the world of work that promotes more sustainable development with combined efforts to help find and shape new pathways towards environmentally sustainable economies in view of the damaging impact of climate change”. 

Samoa also expressed its interest in hosting the next RSE conference in Apia if the opportunity is provided. 

Several speakers were also present to talk on a series of topics that revolved around RSE specific to the sustainability of the scheme such as the process of future RSE numbers; the RSE operational review outcome, the RSE policy review process and timeline, strategic outlook; as well as reporting on five challenges that Minister for Immigration, Ian-Lees Galloway laid out at the 2018 RSE Conference. 

These five challenges including doing more to employ New Zealanders,  improving conditions, increasing wages, and developing automation;  developing the infrastructure for all workers, not just RSE;  stamp out worker exploitation in New Zealand and along the industry’s supply chains;  and work with other industries, such as age care and transportation, to help them with New Zealand’s experience and knowledge. 

The R.S.E. scheme is now in its 12th year and employers are now seeing the predicted and unprecedented growth in the industry sectors that are part of R.S.E.  

Stakeholders were urged to consider how they can future-proof the R.S.E. scheme so that it can be the solution to supplying sustainable seasonal labour that it was always meant to be. 

This 2019 R.S.E. conference was organised by Horticulture New Zealand, M.B.I.E. and the Government of Vanuatu.  

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