Govt. investigates Fiji workers case
The Government is investigating a dispute between a local businessman and two Fijian women who were brought to Samoa as domestic workers.
Lawyer and Hotelier, Lei’ataualesa Jerry Brunt, has filed a complaint with the Police, accusing Tuipolotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga, from Fiji, of removing items from his residence – among other claims.
The women no longer live there. They both strongly reject the allegations against them.
Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Siaopo Pese, told the Samoa Observer that the matter has reached their Office and that they have launched an investigation.
He said the Fijian women want to return home but because of the investigation, they cannot.
“There is also a stop order issued on the Fijian women,” he said. “Until the conditions of the stop order are met, they cannot leave the country.”
He told the Samoa Observer they are aware the women were here to work and now they want to go home.
According to Siaopo, he has met with Leiataua and the Fijian women. He added that until the Police investigation is completed, only then can the Immigration Office act.
In the meantime, Siaopo confirmed that the Fijian women are in Samoa legally.
The Samoa Observer understands that the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) is also investigating allegations that the women were working illegally.
Makaleta Ono, the Secretary of the M.C.I.L. Chief Executive Officer, confirmed that Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling have met the Managers of the work permit division to discuss the matter.
“But only he can respond,” Ms. Ono told the Samoa Observer on the phone yesterday.
Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo confirmed they are investigating the complaint lodged by Lei’ataualesa.
“I can confirm it is being investigated and that is all I can say on this matter,” he said.
The Fijian women came to Samoa to work, one as a housekeeper, the other a babysitter for the businessman. However, during Easter Week, the Fijian women left the residence of Lei’ataualesa after a falling out.
Last week, the Samoa Observer received a letter from a family member of the Fijian women. Written by one Suliasi Sarosaro, it was addressed to Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama. Fiji’s Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Minster of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Minister of Women Community and Social Development were copied.
Sarosaro claimed that the two Fijian girls had been working in Samoa without permits. The letter further claims that the women were victims of being “exploited, poorly paid” and being made “slaves.”
“They are requesting the assistance of the Fiji Government to talk to the Samoa Authorities to intervene into their case and help them come back to Fiji. Unfortunately, their former boss is holding on to one of the girl’s passport,” the letter reads.
Contacted for a comment, Lei’ataualesa rejected the claims.
“So the allegations of the two being exploited and poorly paid well you be judge of that and God be our witness. They had all the freedom in the world at home,” he said.
According to Lei'ataualesa, they understand that bringing and sponsoring any foreigner to come and work for you in Samoa is always a gamble and a risk.
“We have gone through some really great foreign workers that when it was time to say good bye, it was hard because they had become part of the family and our children have become so attached to them,” said Lei'ataualesa in a letter to the Samoa Observer.
“We have also had a fair share of the unfortunate ones but we have always worked with them to find their replacements before they return back to their home countries. Of course we meet all their return airfare costs, etc.
“None of our past foreign workers have done what our recent housemaid and nanny did to our family at the start of Easter this year.”
Lei'ataualesa claims they have discovered an heirloom of their family is missing.
“An ie iniini, which was used as a dancing fine mat aged 36 years old, has gone missing. 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,” he said.
Asked for a comment, both Tuipolotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga, strongly denied Leiataualesa’s claims.
They said they would talk to the Samoa Observer about everything.
THE LETTER FROM SULIASI SAROSARO
Lot 60 Pilling Road
27th April 2017
The Office of the Prime Minister
With grave concern, I am writing on behalf of my close relative of the two Fijian girls who are lured into working in Samoa by one Jerry Brunt, a lawyer, and his Samoan wife who owns Orator Hotel arranged by another Fijian working for them.
Ms. Tuipolotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga, left Fiji in April and September last year, and has been in Samoa until today without any work permit. Both have left their work place and are staying with one Assemblies of God Church Pastor Tomasi Yabia, at Moamoa for the last 2 weeks or so.
They are victims of being exploited and poorly paid and it is evident that they are more like slaves in that workplace.
With the support of some Fijians and the church, they have reported the matter to the Immigration, the Samoan Labour and still nothing eventuate so far.
They are requesting the assistance of the Fiji Government to talk to the Samoa Authorities to intervene into their case and help them come back to Fiji. Unfortunately, their former boss is holding on to one of the girl’s passport.
Suffice to say, Jerry has so much influence with the top people in the government that the girls file has been delayed or swept under the carpet.
Both girls are desperate to return to Fiji as soon as possible.
Tuipolotu’s mobile number is *******. They are also deeply affected by this traumatic experience in a place away from home and are in need of your assistance.
I look forward to your favourable assistance.
CC: The Minister of Labour
The Minster of Foreign Affairs
The Minister- Department
of Women & Children
Date: 30 April 2018
RE; Tuipolotu Talatoka Samisoni (“Tui”) and
Salaseini Serukeitoga (“Sala”)
Bringing and sponsoring any foreigner to come and work for you in Samoa is always a gamble and a risk.
We have gone through some really great foreign workers that when it was time to say good bye it was hard as they had become part of the family and our children have become so attached to them.
We have also had a fair share of the unfortunate ones but we have always worked with them to find their replacements before they return back to their home countries, of course we meet all their return airfare costs, etc.
None of our past foreign workers have done what our recent Housemaid and Nanny did to our family at the start of Easter this year.
Our recent foreign workers Tuipolotu Talatoka Samisoni (“Tui”) (originally Nanny) and Salaseini Serukeitoga (“Sala”) (originally Housemaid) are both Fijians. We brought Tui in to Samoa on or about …. We asked Tui to find us another worker from Fiji and that is how we got Sala.
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. 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.
We did not lure Tui and Sala to come and work for us in Samoa. A Fijian relative of Tui named Watisone (Kosa) Banuve who was a former employee of ours got into contact with Tui and asked her that we were looking for a nanny. Tui agreed to come and work for us voluntarily.
She understood the work she was coming to do, to work as a Nanny to our 2 grown children. Tui talked Sala into joing her to work for our family when we asked Tui to look for a second girl. Tui has a gay relative named Suliasi Sarosaro whom we now found out is Sala’s brother’s gay partner and that is how they are connected.
Sala travelled to Samoa to work for our family voluntarily knowing fully well she was coming to Samoa to work as a Housemaid for our family.
In January we returned back from NZ having had our new born son and we made it known to both Tui and Sala that Sala will be the Nanny of our baby while Tui the housemaid as we cannot have Tui as Nanny for our new born child because of her heavy smoking.
Tui was paid a gross weekly salary of $288. Free accommodation, free electricity, free water, free medicine and free food valued at $220.00 weekly. So for Tui alone she was getting approximately $500.00 per week from when she arrived into Samoa in April 2017.
In addition we paid approximately $900 for her one way airfare to Samoa. We even supplied her with clothes, including bras and panties, perfumes and body lotions to make her smell nice when coming to work, gave her presents, etc.
She was treated like a family member. She stole money from our children’s piggy bank in her early days but we had forgave her and gave her another chance.
Sala was paid an initial gross salary of $256.00 up to December 2017. When she was made Nanny to our new born son, she received an extra $100 from our parents which was unknown to us while we also gave her another extra $100.
So in actual fact, Sala was paid $456.00 per week from January 2018 until she ran away for no reason. Sala also enjoyed free accommodation, free electricity, free water, free medicine and free food valued at $220.00 weekly. So for Sala she was actually getting $676.00 per week.
In addition we paid approximately $900 for her one way airfare to Samoa.
We even supplied her with clothes, including bras and panties, perfumes and body lotions to make her smell nice when coming to work, gave her presents, etc. She was treated like a family member. She had no reason to run away, just like how she confirmed she deeply regretted running away with Tui.
So the allegations of them two being exploited and poorly paid well you be judge of that and God be our witness. They had all the freedom in the world at home.
Tui and Sala have a house key and a key to our property gate, Is that an indication that someone is being treated a slave. They have a key to our gate and our home.
Both Tui and Sala took off from our home at 3am on Easter Friday morning assisted by one Apisalome Bolaciri Lesumaimaleya. 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 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 fine mat (ie sae iniini) which was found from inside their room. This fine mat was underneath the bed used by Sala. In addition a second ie iniini which was used as a dancing fine mat aged 36 years old has gone missing.
We are also interviewing a Fijian worker that received 8 bags from Tui to store at her place which one of them contained linens and towels and certain clothing’s now discovered to be missing from our home.
The matter is with the police to investigate. We have a stop notice in place. Yes Tui’s passport was given to us as we were processing her work permits and temporary residence. We have asked Sala for her passport also to give to us when its time to file her permits.
Tui took off at 3am. She did not ask us to give back her passport as she was running away that night. We would have gladly organised her return if only she had said that she wanted to go back to Fiji, just like we did with our other Fijian workers. You can have your passport back as it is of no use to us anymore.
The allegation that I have much influence over top people in government is a joke. Suliasi Sarosaro needs to shut his mouth up as he knows nothing. We do know for a fact he had received parcels and packages sent over by Tui from Samoa containing stolen items from our Family.
So who are the real victims here. Them or Us.
Leiataua Jerry Brunt.