Pacific horticultural workers will have a safe, inexpensive way to send money home under a new government plan.

Pacific Islander Diong seasonal work as part of the RSE program in Hawke’s Bay.
Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The project follows a pilot project for remittances and retirement planning last year and an earlier study that suggested that RSE (recognized seasonal employer) employees pay about $ 400 per season in transaction fees and changes.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carried out the pilot project with the private financial services provider Apello Services.

The pilot found the new platform to be easy to use and cheaper than traditional wire services.

“It was decided to extend the program to all RSE employees in New Zealand,” said INZ. “The new approach provides workers with a safer way to volunteer for retirement and send money home in a convenient and inexpensive way. It also complies with New Zealand’s anti-money laundering obligations.”

A previous study found that workers sent an average of 42 percent of their total takeaway earnings home as cash transactions three times a month.

You could expect to pay anywhere from $ 330 to $ 440 in wire transfer transaction fees and charges over the course of the season. Safety issues were also highlighted in the study.

“Of particular concern is the manner in which large groups of RSE employees, up to 70 truckloads at a time, gather at their local MTO agent (money transfer) office on payday. Given that each employee is several hundred dollars in cash, this practice poses a significant risk to workers and MTO agents. “

Research on RSE in the horticultural and viticulture industries shows that the income of a Samoan worker in their home country supports an average of more than 10 people in their home country.

The maximum number of RSE employees per year has increased from 5,000 when the system was introduced in 2007 to 14,400 now.

Workers from Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu can stay for up to seven months for a period of eleven months, and workers from Kiribati and Tuvalu for up to nine months due to travel costs.