Thursday, October 28, 2021

Foreign workers pilot program endorsed to help fill labour shortage

The NSW Government has today provided conditional approval for more than 350 skilled workers to arrive from Fiji to help fill a labour shortage in the State’s abattoirs.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the government had developed the initiative as a pilot program under the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and was now seeking necessary approvals from the Commonwealth Government.

“This is a common-sense solution to minimise disruption to supply chains and an important step towards securing the State’s food supply,” Mr Marshall said.

“We have worked closely with industry to understand what labour is required during these challenging times, and this pilot presents an important first step in securing critical workers.”

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The pilot proposes to charter more than 350 experienced workers from Fiji to work at approved abattoirs in NSW.

Mr Marshall said that these arrivals would not be considered part of the airport cap and that workers would be required to undergo the same stringent quarantine requirements as all other international arrivals, in line with existing public health orders.

“We would never introduce a risk into the State, and every worker entering the country under this program will go through strict quarantine and testing before being allowed to travel into our regional communities,” Mr Marshall said.

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“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the State’s agricultural workforce and that’s why we have already taken steps to minimise disruptions, including adopting the National Agricultural Workers Code and launching the Help Harvest NSW portal to connect domestic labour supply with demand.”

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Subject to relevant Commonwealth approvals, this positive outcome would be achieved in just one month’s time, with the first charter flight expected to take off in mid-November.

The charter flights and quarantine arrangements would be funded by industry.

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