Stop order lifted, Fijian workers reject allegations

By Ivamere Nataro and Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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GOING HOME: Tuipulotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga are heading home today.

GOING HOME: Tuipulotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga are heading home today. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

The two Fijian workers in the middle of a dispute that had been investigated by several Government authorities are heading home.

Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Siaopo Pese, confirmed last night that the Stop Order issued against Tuipolotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga, had been lifted and they are now allowed to go home.

The Fijian women were kept in Samoa after their employer, Lei’ataualesa Jerry Brunt, had filed a complaint with the Police, accusing them of removing items from his residence.

“The case had since been closed as the Police do not have sufficient evidence against the Fijian women,” Siaopo told the Weekend Observer.

The Weekend Observer understands that the women are flying home today.

But prior to their departure, they have strongly denied the allegations leveled against them by their former employer.

Ms. Talatoka and Ms. Serukeitoga had been brought to Samoa by Lei’ataualesa for work. Ms. Talatoka was to work as a nanny while Ms. Serukeitoga as a housemaid.

This was until the Easter Week when the Fijian women left the residence of Lei’ataua. In a letter published by the Samoa Observer yesterday, Lei’ataualesa, who is a lawyer by profession, accused the Fijians of removing valuable items from their home. He claimed that his family is the victim in the matter.

“Both Tui and Sala took off from our home at 3am on Easter Friday…” Leiataua’s letter reads. 

“Only thieves escaped like this and at hours like this.  We had dinner Thursday before Easter Friday, we were laughing and planned the long easter weekend with the churches involved.  

“Little did our family know that such an act was to be carried our by Tui and Sala.  We woke up on Easter Friday to prepare for Church and discovered (what) they had taken and when trying to contact where they were, we received a cheeky text message form Tui that they were “in the middle of nowhere lol”.  

“We had since discovered they had attempted to steal a fine mat (ie sae iniini) which was found from inside their room.”

Both Ms. Talatoka and Ms. Serukeitoga deny the allegations. Asked why they left, Ms. Talatoka, said they were afraid because they had been working in Samoa without proper documents. They said they had no work permit and a contract. 

“I came in with the job description of a nanny. I waited for the day I was going to be given a contract to sign. Nothing was given until the day I left their house,” she said. 

“I was questioning them and they kept telling me they were waiting for my Police clearance and my medical report. But my understanding is that whenever we enter a country to work, it’s a requirement and a must that we give in our Police clearance and medical report and then we can work. 

“I then kept enquiring about my work permit.” 

Ms. Talatoka said he was lured to come and work in Samoa by one of Lei’ataualesa’s previous employee. 

“When I enquired about my work permit and contract, they said that when we come here and we will do things from this end. So I had that very trust and I believed it will happen.”

The Fijian women had been staying with a Fijian Pastor in Samoa. This was while the Police investigate a complaint lodged by Leiataualesa against them. The Samoa Immigration as well as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour were also looking into the matter.

Ms. Talatoka also raised questions about their pay, days and hours they worked.

 “The sad thing is that, God knows, I didn’t even keep a record of anything I did or my time. But the fact is I was working without any work permit. So that was what pushed me when I found out that it takes only three weeks to do a work permit. That was what pushed me to walk away from there.” 

Ms. Talatoka also questioned the way they were treated. She that “we’re just humans and at times we make mistakes” but it doesn’t mean they can treat us like that.

Ms. Talatoka insisted that what pushed her to leave Lei’ataualesa’s residence was because she was scared she would be deported because of no proper documents. 

 “We are the victims here because the reason being is that whenever they talk harshly to us, we never reply to what they say. At times tears flows because we know we’re foreigners here. 

“They said that we are treated as family. I don’t see any treatment as family. We eat in the ironing room, most of the time we miss home. I understand that’s work, but to me it’s too much how they treat us, compared to other Fijian workers who are well treated by the families here. 

“Work they tell us to do, we exceed their expectation. We keep the house clean, whatever they want, the garden and all, I do it. 

“They bought stuff, to me clothes were just twice and perfume was just twice as well. Why do they want to buy gifts, when after that they come and talk about it? They bought it as gifts and presents, we didn’t ask. Why do you buy gifts for someone, it’s because they’re doing a good job.” 

In his letter to the Samoa Observer, Lei’ataulesa said the Fijian women contributed to not having their work permits.

“Prior to Tui travelling from Fiji we advised her to bring her Police report with her as we will need it for processing of her papers.  Medical Report we also do it in Samoa,” he said. “Tui arrived and there was no Police report.    We did the same thing with Sala and again Sala arrived with no Police Report from Fiji.  We were advised that it would be sent to our mail box.  

“To date both Tui and Sala have not provided my office with any Police report.  My office have all their work permit applications (forms) and temporary residence forms completed but awaiting for Police report to confirm their employment with our family.

“Both Tui and Sala were allowed to stay on be employed with our family while we continue to work on processing both their work permits and temporary residence.  We continued to wait for their respective Police Reports before filing both work permit and temporary residence.  We understand the extra costs involved but we need it to make sure we are not hiring any person with a criminal record.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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