Vanuatu seasonal workers

Ni-Vanuatu workers arrive in Western Australia to combat labour shortages on farms

The usual backpacker workforce is thinning and many locals are turning their back on the work, leaving workers from Pacific Island countries as the only option for some farmers.

Already 154 Ni-Vanuatu workers have arrived to help, including Remo Kalours who is working with 57 others from Vanuatu at a table grape farm 100 kilometres south of Perth.

Mr Kalours said the most challenging part of the job for him was the two weeks he had to spend in hotel quarantine.

"It's very hard for me when I stay inside a hotel for 14 days," he said.

Vanuatu seasonal workers urged to join union

The call by the Vanuatu Workers Union comes as it was announced that 800 seasonal workers will head to Australia in coming weeks.

Discussions were also ongoing over the possibility of more ni-Vanuatu returning to New Zealand for seasonal employment in the new year.

The Union's Secretary-General, Rocky Bule, said around two-thousand seasonal workers were members. However there are several thousand more who aren't.

According to Bule, local agents in Vanuatu tend to discourage the workers from joining unions.

Vanuatu investigates 'substantial' pay and welfare issues of seasonal workers in Queensland

Samson Vilvil Fare has visited farms in Queensland to talk to workers and employers, following reports Pacific Islanders were leaving their employers in the Bundaberg region in search of better pay.

"They didn't have enough working hours in what they were promised to have," Mr Fare said.

"This is one of the main issues … they're not making enough money."

Mr Fare said it was unclear what the consequences were for a worker's visa status if they absconded from an employer.

Ni Vanuatu workers plant over 4000 sunflower seeds in Australia

Frederick James decided to write the words "G'day world from Oz" in huge sunflower letters that could be seen from the sky at Innisfail, south of Cairns.

"I thought I'd like to send a message to the whole world and I thought that's what I'll do," he said.

Mr James enlisted the help of his neighbours and a group of seasonal workers from Vanuatu to plant more than 40,000 sunflower seeds on the property.

"It went completely viral," he said.

Concerns raised over Vanuatu government's proposal to abolish seasonal worker agencies

However, Deputy Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau told local media his idea to replace SWP agents will increase government revenue and ensure fairness in recruitment.

The proposal has caused a stir on social media with many seasonal worker agents and workers voicing concern.

Seasonal worker agent Dan Dempsey said that Vanuatu workers have told him they are worried about their future under the proposal.

Vanuatu seasonal workers, students to return home in stages

The Ministry of Health Advisory Committee has set these stages at 640 guests in quarantine at a time.

The ministry and World Health Organisation also continue to work very closely with the Department of Tourism to finalise the Safe Business Operations Guideline and to roll it out to the provinces.

The SBO Guidelines Policy was highlighted at the recent National Business Forum which was a government consultation forum facilitated by the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Vanuatu seasonal workers begin work at Northern Territory mango farms

The seasonal workers are participants in the Australian Federal Government's pilot seasonal worker programme.

ABC News reports the programme aims to get Pacific seasonal workers back on Australian farms during the coronavirus pandemic.

They are helping to fill a labour shortage on Australian farms and are expected to be in the country for at least nine months.

Their job can be gruelling. The workers can spend hours in the hot sun, stripping trees of mangoes.

Fears Vanuatu citizens stranded in Australia could soon become unlawful

Melanie MacFarlane is a migration agent based in Australia, and grew up in Vanuatu as a child.

She has been assisting Pacific islanders stuck in Australia during the pandemic, who are unable to return home because of border closures.

"My concern is that their visas are expiring very shortly," Ms Macfarlane said.

"In fact when I spoke to one just recently his sister's visas actually expired over a month ago...she is unlawful at the moment which is not a good position to be in at all."

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.