Influenza hits seasonal workers

The 14 Samoan seasonal workers who are affected by the H1N1 influenza outbreak in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand are well taken care of. 

Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour CEO, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling confirmed this yesterday. 

Pulotu said RSE liaison officer, Lemalu Nele Leilua, has already visited the sick boys and she’s monitoring their condition. 

“Unless there are serious problems, when it gets beyond that we will communicate,” he said.  

“But at the moment there, its well taken care of so there’s no alarm from that side. There’s nothing serious about it. 

“As far as I know, this is the first time for an outbreak affecting our workers under the RSE. I am not aware of any previous outbreaks and obviously, they will be kept and treated until they are well before they can start work together.” 

In an article published on Samoa Global News, Lemalu confirmed the 14 boys arrived into New Zealand two weeks ago, and they are employed by Thornhill Horticultural Contracting. 

Pulotu said before the liaison officer’s checks on those affected, the employers are first and foremost responsible for the health of the workers. 

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“If there are any outbreaks of diseases like that; the employers will have to evacuate the workers. 

“If it’s confirmed, then they will have to make an arrangement, either transfer to another region until the problem is resolved or they have to come back. 

“It depends also on the nature of the problem. At the moment those who are confirmed to have the influenza are treated in New Zealand. 

They don’t just get sent back when they get sick.”

Pulotu said workers in New Zealand are insured, and unless they misbehave then they will have to return to Samoa. 

“But all the cost relating to the medical expenses in New Zealand will be covered under the insurance policy.

“After going through the medical processes and if at the end they are cured, depending on the situation there, the workers and employers and whatever they agreed to, at the end then they might have to come if they feel they are not interested to work there. 

“But we encourage our workers to go through that process, and to use the insurance policy that has been paid through them, and the employer to be treated properly, not just send anybody back, of course we will complain, we will raise it with authorities there.”

Pulotu said they respect the processes that are already in place and listed under the contracts. 

“The role of the Government, through the Ministry is to facilitate that process to make sure that before they leave the country they have all the documentation that is required. 

“This is why insurance is really important. And it is something that also needs to be encouraged here in Samoa. But that’s very important.”

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