Samoan seasonal workers in Australia praised
Samoans employed as seasonal workers in Australia have been praised as “honest, dependable and hard workers.”
So said Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi after a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, last weekend.
The two Prime Ministers met ahead of the Manu Samoa and Wallabies test match in Sydney.
They told reporters that the seasonal work programme was top of their discussions.
“Close to 700 Samoans work in Australia under this programme," Tuilaepa said during a press conference in Sydney.
"While others work for three months, some are employed for up to three years.”
The talks between the two leaders came after last month's Pacific Islands Forums and controversial comments by Mr. Morrison's deputy which both stoked some tension between Australian and other countries in the Pacific.
Tuilaepa said his counterpart told him a majority of businesses in Australia are keen on hiring Samoans.
“Samoans stand out," Tuilaepa said. "There are workers from Nauru and Kiribati who started the programme but our people have been singled out as honest, dependable and hard workers."
The reputation that has been built opens up more opportunities for Samoa.
"This is why the village councils should be adamant in reminding the villagers (recruited) about the importance of such opportunities that are made available for them.
“Issues such as running away from the accommodation provided by [sponsoring companies] or not showing up for work and taking time to hang out with families in Australia [are some of the] main reasons behind the predicaments faced by the seasonal work schemes."
Australia launched its Seasonal Workers Programme for the Pacific in 2012.
Researchers from the Australian National University published a paper finding Australia's programme was only a fraction of the size of New Zealand's.
Last month Australia's Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, was forced to apologise to Pacific Island nations for saying Pacific Islanders will survive the climate crisis – in part – “because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit.”