The CA team also heard from a number of representatives from the host Island countries, as well as employers and industry here and in New Zealand who have some experience with the scheme. NZ employs over 7000 workers from these countries each year.
In one case, these workers saved one particular business 29% in labour costs or over $100 000. This was due mainly because workers always turned up to work, were always happy, and worked extremely hard.
Workers are short listed in their host countries and only the best workers are chosen to be part of the “labour pool”. The really strong advantage of this scheme is that the same workers come back every year and so employers only need to train them once. They are often very keen rugby and AFL players.
Cotton Australia were also recently visited in Sydney by the Hon. Boutu Bateriki, Minister for Labour and Human Recourses, from the Republic of Kiribati, along with two of his staffers. Kirabati is a small Pacific island keen to send workers to Australia as part of the Pacific Islander Workers Scheme. The Kiribati government believes the scheme has worked well to date in horticulture and is keen to make this year's pilot in cotton a success.
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