HORTICULTURE AND VITICULTURE
AWUNZ has always been the Union that ensured the Agricultural workers Act maintained the coverage for workers in that sector.
Sadly today with immigrants being preferred over young trainees from such places as Telford, Farm Workers conditions remain compromised, particularly around hours actually being worked and being paid for, incorrect holiday pay being paid and statutory days not being paid correctly and alternate days being lost. Given the isolation of these workers the idea of maintaining agreements for them is impossible.
With immigrants working under work visa’s, the situation is only compromised.
AWUNZ does however act on behalf of any farm worker who seeks our assistance.
Again, with the abolition of the National award system, nurseries proved to be ‘off limit’ to organise and being spread over the country side, it was obvious that each owner preferred to deal with their business separately, whereas perhaps a national standard might have been collectively beneficial.
The industry is rife with stories of low pay and struggles accordingly to attract apprentices and staff that actually stay in the industry. Local Councils that have retained their gardens and green space areas have proven to be the last bastian of quality training and maintaining reasonable wage rates. We congratulate those Councils, especially the Christchurch City Council, which despite the tragedies beseeching the City has maintained, and looked to expand its training program.
AWUNZ has not been able to maintain agreements with market gardens. Work brokers and migrants and labour for exchange accommodation have reduced the industry to basic circumstances, where the minimum wage increase will be the major talking point on any job site.
AWUNZ does have a comprehensive Collective Agreement with Meadow Mushrooms in Christchurch. Meadows is a massive operation on the NZ scale and produces around 80% of the mushrooms sold in New Zealand, with plans to expand further under way in 2018. This operation provides hundreds of jobs and the Collective Agreement is the cornerstone of the conditions of employment at the facility.
Orchards – Vineyards:
With the seasonal nature of the industry, there are real logistical problems associated with trying to gain agreements in this area of employment. With overseas investment in the sector, the industry continues to rely on migrant labour and short term work visas. AWUNZ nationally is demanding a better deal for these workers as the number of requests off shore seasonal work continues.