Vanuatu seasonal workers

Australia fires: 48 ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers wait for all clear

 The group had been working on apple and blueberry orchards, when they were forced to flee an approaching bushfire.

The Daily Post reports group leader James Walau saying the workers left their camp on New Year's Eve and went to an evacuation centre.

He said the centre was too small to accommodate all of the workers so their employer put them up in a hotel.

Mr Walau said their prayers were answered when they were told their orchards had only lost a few trees to the fire, before it miraculously died down.


New Zealand increases seasonal jobs for Pacific workers

The NZ Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway announced that the RSE cap would increase by 1,550 places this year, bringing the total available RSE visas to 14,400.

“We are helping our regions’ growers to plan ahead and get the support they need. For the first time we are announcing a two-year increase to the RSE quota. This will help address industry concerns that a lack of certainty on RSE numbers makes it hard for them to plan for labour needs and accommodation requirements,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.

Vanuatu union encouraged by seasonal workers' rights win

Dozens of ni-Vanuatu on Australia's Seasonal Worker Program last week won a settlement after taking legal action against an agriculture contractor for gross underpayment and mistreatment.

The union's representative Ephraim Kalsakau said the workers had become ill from exposure to chemicals while picking tomatoes.

He said the process towards the settlement has underlined the democratic principles that ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers learn about while abroad.

Vanuatu urges seasonal workers to give full health report

A ni-Vanuatu worker on New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme died ten days ago in Tauranga.

Vanuatu's Department of Labour has confirmed the death of Kennethy Wilson Rong on May 25.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports an autopsy revealed he had heart disease and his death has been referred to the coroner

Workers applying to work under New Zealand's RSE scheme or Australia's Seasonal Work Programme are being encouraged to tell their doctors if they know they have an existing health condition, the paper reported.



US farmers show interest in Vanuatu seasonal workers

This was conveyed to the Daily Post newspaper by MP Francois Chani, the government's Special Envoy on Labour Mobility.

Farmers in California on the US West Coast, relayed their interest to Mr Chani through the farmers' network with farmers on Vanuatu's Seasonal Work Program with Australia.

He said he would be meeting with representatives of these farmers towards the end of this month, indicating the farmers' need for seasonal workers was relatively urgent.

Canberra says Vanuatu interference claim wrong

An official at the Australian High Commission in Port Vila, Malcolm Paterson, said the Australian Government had not sought any delay.

He was responding to claims by two Vanuatu MPs, John Sala and Andrew Napuat, that bureaucrats in Canberra had interfered.

Mr Paterson said Australia had been a strong advocate and supporter of the Seasonal Worker Programme since it started in 2008 and has not tried in any way to impinge on the Tasmania negotiations.


Photo: RNZ/Johnny Blades

Vanuatu workers snap up 'taste of home'

Vanuatu Fine Foods which processes local foods like taro, cassava and kumara, has found a strong market for its 'meal in a bag' products among ni-Vanuatu working on New Zealand orchards and vineyards.

Cornelia Wyllie set up the company in 2006, sourcing food from 2000 growers of traditional crops around Vanuatu.

"How it started was the families in Vanuatu wanted to send food back to their sons, daughters, husbands and wives in New Zealand that wanted a taste of Vanuatu," she said.

Appeal to families of Vanuatu workers who ran away

Four of the workers left in February, and another this week.

Their visas have since been cancelled.

Lionel Kaluat said he was greatly disappointed with the worker's behaviour, which could damage Vanuatu's reputation.

He appealed to the workers' chiefs and family members to help the government to bring them back to Vanuatu as soon as possible.