The Ultimate Oceania Travel Guide

Pacific worker scheme problems continue

An investigation is underway in Samoa to find out how seasonal workers were allowed to leave Samoa for New Zealand this week without approval.

According to Samoan policies, seasonal workers who take up employment in New Zealand and Australia must first be approved by Cabinet.

In March this year, the government suspended the scheme because there was no control on how the workers were selected and workers ended up engaging in alcohol and extra marital affairs.

Samoa’s Minister for Commerce, Industry and Labour, Wayne Sooialo said the committee report had not been completed.

He said the government wanted to know how the seasonal workers managed to fly to New Zealand without formal approval.

Samoan workers arrive in NSW, Australia. Picture: Pacific Australia Mobility Scheme

It was reported in Samoa that 17 fruit pickers and freezing workers left for New Zealand last week. The Ministry’s chief executive officer Lyndon Chu Ling said the incident raised a lot of questions.

He said every flight had to be approved by Cabinet first and there had been incidents where some seasonal workers left before approval was given.

200 Samoans returned to their homes earlier this year even before their contracts were over, for violating laws and terms and conditions.

Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa had said the program hasn’t been stopped but there were changes needed.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (R) with Samoan PM Fiame Mata’afa in Wellington. Picture: NZ Government

Ms Mata’afa said the seasonal worker program was intended for those who were unemployed but the lure of money abroad had led to this system being exploited.

Exploitation of Pacific workers in Australia continues
Demand for Fiji workers in Australia

“We have to have a re-look at the system. What has been happening is that even civil servants and those employed in the private sector are going in the seasonal worker programs,” she said.

“This has led to a few issues and we want to deal with it before we can go back to the program in full force.”

The program from Samoa was to resume in October again once the review of the system had been done.

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