Dear Editor – Thanks for allowing me space so I can express myself some of the practices and unfair salary returns working in a farm in New Zealand under the much publicised Seasonal Workers scheme.
My experience must be exposed so not to give false promises to others who might contemplate having a go at the scheme but then return empty hand.
I only worked for a month and half and decided to return along with a fellow wantok after going through the experience which I will put forward.
The farm is called Belenium.
Upon arrival there we headed straight to the farm which is largely Grapevines owned by ‘Vine Power’ said to be owned by an American businessman.
Of course there was much excitement on being on a foreign land. But almost everything that was promised to us in Honiara and by the farm manager fell below our expectations.
From day one each of us received one Cent a tree for each vine-tree harvested. One is lucky enough to collect and harvest an average of three thousand trees a day.
You times that by the one cent and you arrive at the total amount, what each one received.
Another false promise was the hourly rate of $13.50 per day briefed to us in Honiara but was never paid.
The official working day adds up to eight hours so had it been followed each one would collect a generous pay package which is enough to cover food, plus other living costs, living the remainder which could be tacked away to take home.
For a while, I was concerned so began to raise the matter along with the others. Some did agree to the idea of raising the matter to the Farm management.
As we were sent off in the middle of November of 2011, Christmas was fast approaching so as the holiday season.
I was assisted by an Assembly of God congregation closer to the farm upon hearing of my sudden departure.
They seemed to share my feeling. Before I returned a sit-in protest was organized which was attended by the Farm management and this was held on 2 January 2012.
The main topic of discussion was raised with the management. It was to do with the two different rates – the one cent per tree matter, and also the issues around the $13.50 hourly rate.
Our group was concerned but the farm management did not.
They stick to their rates.
And it remained that way. I flew home thereafter along with a fellow friend, incidentally a son of the former speaker of Parliament.
On arrival at Henderson airport my friend was generous enough so he dropped me off at my home.
Today I am living in Gizo.
I own a taxi plus a whole host of several different vehicles collected through hard work and other sources and command a comfortable life.
Five years on some of those on the same group as me are still the same, ‘no entin’.
I hope this is a lesson for others interested in trying out the scheme.
Success only comes through sheer hard work. As for the seasonal work scheme, forget about it. There are enough drones and robots around to do the job for them.