June 30, 2020
New Zealand pork sector urges government to review policies relating to migrant workers
New Zealand's pork industry is facing a serious manpower shortage and the sector has urged the government to review current policies on skilled migrant workers.
Experienced migrant workers are needed to meet a shortfall in staff with the necessary skills required to work with the country's pig herd, NZ Herald reported. However, migrant workers already based at New Zealand's pig farms may not have their visas renewed this year, possibly affecting those who are returning to the country from overseas.
Pig farmers are also concerned that their migrant staff may be required to leave New Zealand due to immigration measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey.
"The sector's strong preference would be to have a pool of available skilled and unskilled New Zealand workers," NZ Pork chief executive David Baines said. The local pig industry, according to Baines, is "relatively niche, hence the lack of local residents to apply for jobs there.
Baines added: "The industry relies on a supply of skilled migrant workers who have been trained in their home countries. The numbers in total are small, particularly compared to major industries such as dairy, but the productivity of the industry is very vulnerable because of the (precise) nature of pig farming."
He said that the pig industry "cannot wait" for more local residents to be ready to work at farms as "our animals need continuous skilled and committed care to be provided."
NZ Pork has requested an urgent meeting with the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway to discuss its concerns.
- NZ Herald