Win for growers as more Pacific workers securedBY KIT SAINSBURY LABOUR SCHEME FACILITATOR, VEGETABLESWAIn mid-May, a group of much needed seasonal workers from the Pacific island of Tonga departed COVID-19 quarantine and commenced their nine-month contract assisting the citrus, apple and avocado industries in regional WA.In total, 150 Pacific workers were recruited, with 20 workers travelling to Carnarvon to assist with table grapes, 95 workers going to Margaret River to support vineyards, 41 workers going to Gingin to support the berry industry, and six workers to Harvey to support the citrus industry.While backpacker numbers have decreased enormously due to the international border closure, seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands continues to fill a huge hole in our agricultural workforce. vegetablesWA President Damir Kuzmicich, said he was pleased to see another cohort of farm workers complete their quarantine period to ensure the safe passage of an important workforce into key growing regions.Seasonal workers from Tonga have commenced their nine-month in regional WA.“This is the fifth successful flight into the State since the Government Restart in September last year, contract bringing in now 779 workers from Vanuatu, Fiji and now Tonga across the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme,” Mr Kuzmicich said.“We are expecting confirmation for three more flights over June and July to supplement these numbers from Tonga and allow growers to grow and harvest their crops with confidence.”Mr Kuzmicich said the Government has indicated that it views the risk profile of the people coming in from Pacific nations as less than those coming in from India and the USA.“In late April, Western Australian Minister for Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan indicated that we can be very optimistic about June and July flights and continuing these charters throughout 2021,” Mr Kuzmicich said.“We are hoping for two more flights from Vanuatu, and this is exactly the kind of information we need to be able to plan our crops.“The approval of flights into WA means that growers will be able to plan for their labour requirements for the rest of the year, which gives them the certainty to be able to produce and harvest their crops.“We look forward to continuing our good working relationship with the Minister, and her office, as we work towards securing our ongoing labour needs.”MORE INFORMATIONContact Kit Sainsbury on 0477 477 044 or email scheduleVegetablesWA has proposed a flight schedule for the rest of 2021 with the WA Government, but due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, it is likely that the State Government will only consider flights for the next three months.