Samoa welcomes New Zealand work opportunity

Samoa has welcomed the decision by the New Zealand Government to grant border exemption to 2000 seasonal workers from the Pacific, including Samoa, amidst the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

On Friday, the New Zealand Government announced that 2000 workers from the Pacific would be deployed early next year to pick fruit for that nation's horticulture and wine industries.

Asked for a comment, the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L), Pulotu Lyndon Chu-Ling, said this is positive news for the workers.

Although the Samoan Government has yet to be informed officially, the C.E.O. welcomed the development.

“It’s a positive outcome and I’m glad to announce before the Government gives out any official statement and conclusion, the workers’ preparations are all ready to roll,” he said.

“The Government’s preparations for the seasonal workers through the Ministry (M.C.I.L) have been on standby for a long time now.

“Once the clearance has officially been sent over as well as everything has been well set and managed for the workers’ arrival (in New Zealand) because we can’t just send our workers overseas when we’re not sure if the isolation and quarantine sites and gears awaiting them are properly managed.”

According to the C.E.O, there are 3,000 workers in Samoa who are willing and waiting for an opportunity.

But the number deployed will depend on the demand from their New Zealand and Australian employers.

“It’s good news and the Ministry is ready and that’s a fact," Pulotu said. "Once the time and arrangements of the flights are dealt with and after the Government has approved an official letter from overseas so we’re all excited because this is a working progress."

New Zealand Immigration Minister, Kris Faafoi and Agriculture Minister, Damien O'Connor announced the good news for Pacific Island countries on Friday morning.

Employers will have to pay the workers a living wage of NZ$22.10 an hour (T$37.7), pay them 30 hours' a week while they're in managed isolation for 14 days, and cover their isolation costs - estimated at NZ$4472 (T$7.602) a worker.

Horticulture NZ chief executive, Mike Chapman, welcomed the decision.

"While the timing of the Government's decision means that spring and early summer crops have missed out, growers across the country are relieved that some of the essential workers needed from low-Covid-risk Pacific countries are being let in," Chapman is quoted as saying according to New Zealand.

New Zealand Winegrowers says it "warmly welcomes" the Government announcement.

Chief executive Philip Gregan said: "We have been working constructively with the Government to find a solution that balances our industry's need for skilled workers to complete time-sensitive vineyard operations - against the high demand from Kiwis for places in managed isolation and quarantine."

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