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Govt. assures safety of seasonal workers

Not one Samoan seasonal worker in Australia and New Zealand has asked to return home since the coronavirus pandemic started. 

As such the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.), Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, said the Government has decided to keep them there during the border lockdowns in both countries.

He also confirmed that none of the workers has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

“If anyone intends to come home during this time we will put forward that request and seek advise but so far no one has asked to come back home,” Pulotu said in an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

“We are providing information sheets from our Ministry of Health [in Samoan language] on hygiene and what they need to be aware for prevention measures…So far everyone is safe.”

About 400 seasonal workers left the country in February for New Zealand under the recognised seasonal employment scheme. 

The number does not include people who were still in the country for work and those in Australia.

Pulotu assured the Ministry has been in contact with employers in Australia and New Zealand to prioritise the safety of the Samoans working for the companies. 

“That has always been the arrangement and with the current situation that has been strengthen to ensure our people are protected,” he said. 

“Those arrangements still stand and if anyone does intend to return home their contract will end and they will have to stand in line again if they want to go back for work.” 

Earlier this week the Ministry had advised family members that financial institutions are changing their policies due to the spread of the virus which can cause delays to enable their family members to send over cash.

“For protection from the COVID-19 spreading around the globe, the New Zealand and the Samoan Governments has announced to all families and parents of overseas male and female seasonal workers, that there may be delaying problems with money sent from the workers to Samoa due to the impacted services of the financial institutions in their allocated countries,” the statement reads.

“This is specifically due to the policies on avoiding more than the limited number of people in the companies where they use to send money to Samoa. Hence why we regret to inform you of this issue disrupting the earnings of the seasonal workers to send money over to their families in Samoa.”

The workers cannot leave their work premises to send money to Samoa due to these policies and this may continue for another four weeks or more, said M.C.I.L.

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