Falealili celebrates 20 years of seasonal work

By Talaia Mika 21 June 2024, 8:30PM

Hundreds of seasonal workers under the Falealili seasonal worker program celebrated their 20th anniversary at Poutaasi highlighting the successes of the program over the years in helping families lift their living standards.

It was also an open day to showcase the members' produce from their farms which was believed to be a success, with most of the produce being on discount.

Held at the Nu'usavili grounds on Friday, members of the diplomatic corp, partners of the program and the Member of Parliament for Falealili No.1, Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo joined the celebration which kicked off with a parade in the morning.

The seasonal workers were divided into groups of six, showcasing each of the six employers on their banners, and marched with pride having known that they had returned successfully and helped their families.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, the founder of the program, Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale emphasized the importance and successes of the program over the years with the priority of building up families' living standards.

"The success that we always celebrate every year is their successful return, they've done well and earned good money, and of course apart from our members going away and earning good money and enabling them to come back home and build businesses and plantations, indicate that children build homes and cars and we noticed a huge change in their character," he said.

"We believe that they're better people from when they first started, have a better sense of responsibility, especially our leaders. They're now more responsible people and even their work ethics are better because overseas, you have to march to the drumbeat of the palagi.

"Everything has got to be on time, certain rules you have to follow, certain procedures and all that, because if you don't, you get pushed out.

"Us here in Samoa we're more tolerant to such things. We have to because if we were to sack everybody every time someone makes a mistake then there'll be no workers.

"Having travelled overseas has opened their eyes, the horizons tend to open up and they start thinking in terms of other options to improve their families and those things."

The Open Day is an annual event when majority of the members return each season. There are currently a few in Australia and no one in New Zealand.

The Recognised Seasonal Employment (R.S.E.) is younger than the Falealili Seasonal Worker Program. R.S.E came later while the Falealili program has been in the labour mobility space for 20 years.

Meanwhile, a person in Samoa earning $5 an hour and works 40 hours a week would take 5.7 years to earn what the seasonal workers earn in eight months.

"It's why this program is so important and it is why we try and stress to our families here of seasonal workers and be careful with what they do with these opportunities," Tuatagaloa explained.

By Talaia Mika 21 June 2024, 8:30PM
Samoa Observer

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