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Six workmen join Pacific islands harvest scheme

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 27, 2009) – The first workmen under the pacific island harvest scheme have arrived in Griffith to help ease labour shortages crippling the horticulture industry.

The first six workers from Vanuatu arrived late Wednesday night despite lengthy delays fueling fears that the federal government had lost enthusiasm for the labour scheme announced in August last year.

After being inducted at the Griffith skills and training centre, the group of six were all greeted by Mayor Mike Neville at an official welcoming ceremony at the Griffith city library and treated to a tour of the area.

"It has taken some time, but now finally we will have an opportunity to see how it goes, and we will monitor it with a view to iron out any of the rough edges," Neville said.

Only two of the workers Norrish Garae and Moana Dini, will remain in Griffith for six months as employees of the prosperity farming systems at Lake Wyangan.

The other four workers will move on to sawn hill to join up with the 50 workers already there from Tonga.

Labor Hire firm summit personnel CEO Mark Taylor said it was great to finally see the workers in the flesh.

"It is fantastic to finally see their smiling faces, and it is good to see a few growers are getting behind the scene," said Taylor.

"Hopefully once other growers see how it works we may see another 20 on the way soon".

The Pacific seasonal worker pilot scheme is demand driven and was implemented in response to horticulture claims that up to $700 million [US$6.5 million] of produce rots due to a lack of reliable seasonal workers.

Growers who wish to participate in the pilot must have demonstrated they have put Australian job seekers first.

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