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Shearing wages rise in bid to maintain staff levels

Sheep shearers are about to be rewarded for their tireless work in the woolshed.

Wages for shearers were set to rise after the New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association [NZSCA] recently approved an increase.

NZSCA executive officer Phil Holden said the decision was not taken lightly.

He said that retaining skilled staff was vital for the wool harvesting industry, which had suffered a labour shortage and significant competition.

“The need to ensure we remain competitive has been what’s driven us to make this move.”
“The key focus for our members is retaining the staff they have.
“In the light of the recent cost of living increases, we need to ensure our members’ staff don’t get left behind everyone else and our industry remains a competitive and attractive career option.”

Masterton sheep and beef farmer Mike Butterick said the rise was well-deserved.

“Shearers deserve everything they get paid,” he said.

“It’s an incredibly skilful job, and the guys and girls are incredible athletes.

“If there’s anybody that deserves it, it’s them.”

Pay for cooks, crossbreed shearers, and all crutching would rise by 6.91 per cent, shearing of merino, half breed and quarter breeds by 12.38 per cent, and shed hands and pressers by 12-22 per cent depending on job level.

The association acknowledged that the rise would not address the skill shortage on its own and that ongoing work would seek to meet the sector’s long-term recruitment and training needs.

“We hope the government’s reform of the vocational education system can be completed as soon as possible so that the training needs of our sector can be clarified and confirmed.

“It takes two years to become a trained shearer, so we can’t just fill in the current labour shortages overnight. We need the shearers we’ve got to stay.”
Holden said the labour shortages threatened recent gains made by the wool harvesting industry.

“Any successful industry needs well-trained shed staff. We can ill afford to lose the staff we have overseas because they’re lured by better prospects.

“Farmers also need to ensure the working conditions and environment they offer remain drawcards for our people. But the reality is, just like other industries in the primary sector, we’ll have to pay more to retain the people we have.”


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