Seasonal Labour for Horticulture and Viticulture Industries: Use of Regional Surveys and Forecast in Allocation Decisions


  • Ram SriRamaratnam Department of Labour



Regional seasonal labour shortages have become a quite common occurrence in recent years, especially in the major Horticulture/Viticulture regions. The reliance on workers from overseas sources under various visa & permit conditions also assumed greater significance over the past few years given the low unemployment levels. Regional seasonal labour needs and the potential seasonal labour support had to be assessed during 2008 (and for seasons beyond) for the allocation of overseas workers including under the Recognised Seasonal Labour Employer (RSE) & its Traditional (TRSE) scheme based on forecast results incorporating the responses to the Regional Labour Surveys.

The survey was referred to as the "Survey of Seasonal Labour Employers - Demand & Supply”. It was conducted by the local industry and for the Labour Governance Groups with assistance from the Department of Labour in survey design and in the analysis of the responses. All the major regions with significant horticulture and viticulture activities such as Hawkes Bay (covering pipfruit, wine, kiwifruit & a number vegetable crops), Bay o f Plenty (kiwifruit), Marlborough (wine), Nelson (pipfruit) and Wairarapa (wine) carried out the surveys after the 2006/07 season. It was intended to cover both demand-side and supply-side labour market information.

Demand related information covered the number of full-time staff in relation to casual & seasonal workers, number of seasonal workers per supervisor, method hiring seasonal workers (directly or through contractors), work profile (ie, hours worked per day, days worked per week etc) and wages (piece and hourly rates) as well as the number of casual & seasonal workers used by seasonal months and by crops. The supply-side information covered the source of workers (domestic by sources and ovrerseas by types of visa), level of return of workers; especially labour turn-over, the level of training provided & impacts on productivity, accommodation facilities available or likely and the level anticipated participation in the RSE scheme.

In this paper, some of the key results related to the level of seasonal labour requirements by major regions and the sources of labour supply are reported. The impact of labour practices on labour requirements and the nature of potential supply on implications for temporary migration policies are identified. The method by which a forecasting framework is used for allocation decisions is also outlined along with how survey information was used to refine and calibrate the Forecast Tool.


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Author Biography

Ram SriRamaratnam, Department of Labour