Insurance concern for seasonal workers

By Talaia Mika 29 March 2024, 6:00PM

Samoan seasonal workers are suffering and on the losing side because of the failure of authorities and their employment agents to get them properly insured.

According to a Samoan lawyer who practices in Australia, injured workers and families of deceased workers have often lost out on money that they are owed,

Director of Brisbane-based firm WT Compensation Lawyers, Leota Sinaumea Taufao told the Samoa Observer in an interview that he has concerns about the lack of insurance awareness for seasonal workers in Australia and questioned the Pacific Australian Labour Mobility (P.A.L.M.) over its insurance policy for those who are deployed under the scheme.

He claimed the majority of the Pacific's seasonal workers including Samoans being recruited to work in Australia are not compensated properly when they sustain injuries at the workplace or even die while on deployment. 

"Insurance is very important for any employee especially our Samoan seasonal workers coming to Australia for employment and most of the workers that come here have very little knowledge of insurance so when they are injured at work, they will not be compensated because they have no insurance which is not right," he said.

"All employees deserve to be compensated especially if you're working in a foreign country and I feel for our people and our seasonal workers who come here in search of greener pastures for their families but they end up with these kinds of situations.

"I am not sure if it's the Samoan Government's policy or the Australian government or the employer but my concern is the seasonal workers being involved in accidents and dying from accidents and end up with nothing because they don't have insurance which is not good.

"I have worked on such cases in the past with Samoans but I always end up losing connections with them later during the case when it is later confirmed that they don't have insurance."

Recently, Leota managed to help a single mother, Grace Merisa Ufi whose husband died during seasonal employment in Australia, receive superannuation for her late husband's service in Australia.

On a normal evening in Australia, Ms. Ufi's husband, Tai Avei was relaxing with fellow workers at their dormitory when he had a panic attack and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and lost his life on the way.

It has since then been unclear what caused his death although there was a postmortem examination that was conducted in Australia before his body was released to his wife and children in Samoa.

Meanwhile, a recruiter for seasonal workers in Samoa and founder of the Falealili Seasonal Work Program, Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale said in a previous interview that he is shocked by the insurance issue faced by Samoans working overseas.

He stressed that under their district's seasonal work program as well as the government's schemes, no worker is allowed to leave Samoa for overseas employment unless they are insured.

“I’m surprised that that is happening because those that are recruited to Australia and New Zealand, it’s either through the government scheme or us and I'll be very surprised if there are people that went under these schemes without being insured,” he said.

“Because that’s mandatory and it’s essential. With our workers, everybody is insured.

“I’ll be very surprised if there are other agents or recruiters that don’t do insurance.

“That’s the employers’ responsibility but we as recruiters insist on it. It’s absolutely essential because we never know what might happen."

By Talaia Mika 29 March 2024, 6:00PM
Samoa Observer

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