Govt. stands by name and shame “blacklist”

The Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Purcell, is standing by the Government’s decision to name and shame Samoan Recognised Seasonal workers in New Zealand who have had their contracts terminated for various reasons.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Lautafi stood by the Government’s decision to issue a “blacklist” on workers who have been removed from the programme for different offenses – including extramarital affairs.

On Tuesday, the Government’s Press Secretariat released a statement, which named and shamed nine individuals and their villages.

The individuals, according to the statement, have been sacked for theft, alcohol consumption, fighting in a bar, stealing beer and dangerous behaviour.

Others have been blacklisted for extramarital affairs, smoking marijuana, bullying, extortion of money and taking unauthorised leave from work.

The Samoa Observer has decided against publishing the names and villages of the individuals identified until they have been given an opportunity to comment. Attempts are being made to contact them for their side of the story.

Yesterday, asked if he thought the decision to expose workers sacked for extramarital affairs wasn’t hypocritical given the fact that it is also happening in the Government, Lautafi said this was beside the point.

“Moral issues or not, they were given the opportunity to be a part of the scheme to provide for their families yet they did the total opposite,” the Minister said.

“All I’m concerned about is those working under the scheme, I don’t care about the Government employees here.

“They (R.S.E. workers) went there with conditions to provide for their families but instead they are having affairs and neglecting their obligations to their families. That’s not why we sent them.”

Lautafi said all the workers named have been expelled and will be sent home.

“They have violated policies put in place for the scheme and it’s good they were expelled.”

The Minsiter said the workers were afforded the opportunity to be a part of the scheme for the sole purpose of providing for their families. The Minister said he has also grown tired of  spouses visiting his office complaining about extra marital affairs.

“We have women coming to our office, complaining they are no longer receiving any money from their spouses, they have neglected their responsibility to their wives and children,” he said.

“And the Government will not tolerate such unbecoming behaviour.”

The media statement issued by the Government quoted Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who expressed disappointment about the behaviour of the sacked workers.  

The statement said the decision was made after the Prime Minister was informed by Samoa’s Trade Commissioner Magele Mauiliu Magele and the R.S.E. Liaison Officer, Lemalu Nele Leilua.

“The Seasonal employment programme will not and is not collateral damage due to the irresponsible actions by a handful of ungrateful Samoans,” Tuilaepa is quoted as saying.

“Time and again, I have personally advised all our R.S.E. workers before leaving to remember the importance of their seasonal employment engagement because it’s their families, children and their villages which are reaping the spins offs and fruits of their hard labour.

“Government is also not sparing any expense in securing new jobs for our people and we are the only country in the R.S.E. Programme which has a pre-departure programme to prepare the lucky workers handpicked for these jobs to cope with the demands of working overseas away from their loved ones and their comfort zones.”

Tuilaepa added that Samoa unique “as the only participating Pacific Island country which has a R.S.E. Liaison Coordinator, Lemalu Nele Leilua, based in New Zealand complemented by the Auckland based Samoa Trade Commissioner, Magele Mauiliu Magele.

As for the decision to name and shame, Tuilaepa said: “The Public Notice serves as the last straw and to re-enforce the government’s zero tolerance.

“It serves as a reminder and a discouragement to seasonal workers that disobedience and any undesirable behaviour which will compromise more jobs for Samoans will be weeded out without hesitation.”

Tuilaepa noted that as of now, close to 3,000 Samoans are benefitting from the two seasonal workers programme with the New Zealand Seasonal Employees accounting for close to 2,500 jobs while the rest are working in Australia.

“The irresponsible behaviour of a few which may jeopardise more jobs for two thousand Samoans on the R.S.E. waiting list will not be tolerated.

“As of today and until further notice, the expelled workers and their respective villages are blacklisted from participating in the R.S.E. programmes until further notice.”

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