Seasonal work short-term priority: La'auli
Following a veteran M.P. saying overseas seasonal work should stop, the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party's deputy, says international opportunities are welcome but should not be an economic priority.
Speaking on a live online broadcast on Wednesday, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt, said the Government's goal should be not to rely on such temporary measures for the betterment of families.
He also reminded that retaining manpower in Samoa is amongst the top priorities of F.A.S.T.’s long term plans.
“These seasonal opportunities should not be our priority. Our priority should focus on long term plans,” he said during a programme on the EFKS TV2 called Ia Ao Samoa.
“We don’t prioritise those opportunities, because it is not guaranteed every day. There will be a time when Australia might tell us, that’s enough.
“We are not the only country in the scheme, there is Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji; and then where will our people go?
“So the fact is, we use the opportunity, but still work out a long term plan to ensure we capture our manpower locally to develop families.”
Laauli also noted a common impact on families that arise from the regional seasonal worker scheme each year that the government should have addressed already.
“You have seen men going overseas, leaving their wives and finding out later on that something has happened to their wives,” he said.
“That’s what's happening right now; the men go overseas and end up going with other women.
“Yet the government has the control; choose those who are single and leave those who may make more problems we do not need.
“This happens each year.”
Laauli said what he saw on Monday from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour’s (M.C.I.L.) registration event for potential seasonal workers was one of the “saddest” days of his life.
“I have never seen such a thing. If I were to estimate, the number would not be below 5000,” he said.
“The capacity of that hall plus the crowd outside as well as the whole town that day reflected the massive impact of unemployment.
“And then you ask; where is this coming from? How does this happen?
“You saw that the age restrictions come from someone who has just finished school to those who have spouses and children already, and the aim is to assist the overseas countries who need the labour, in Australia and New Zealand.
“What F.A.S.T. is trying to recap is that we have worked on our long term plan and what is our long term plan? It is to retain the man power within the country.”
This comes after F.A.S.T.’s Salega No. 2 member-elect; Olo Fiti Vaai told the Samoa Observer that he believes the Seasonal worker scheme should not continue.
The veteran M.P. said Samoans should not be encouraged to go overseas and to resort to temporary employment to care for families.
Laauli clarified that the employment opportunities are imperative for the people, saying Samoa should not remain idle when there are opportunities available.
However, there must be control.
“Opportunities don’t come all the time, comes once, sometimes twice,” Laauli said.
“But opportunities must be rationed. We must have control over it.”
Laauli reminded everyone of the $1 million a year pledge for each of the 51 constituencies, to ensure development of villages.
“What are these developments? Agriculture, fisheries, any development project that will benefit the nation,” he said.
“That’s where our priorities are at; opportunities and money for our families. And who is expected to do that work? Most of them were at the registration looking for temporary employment.
“F.A.S.T. aims to create opportunities for the people of Samoa to earn for their families, especially with agriculture. It is the Government’s job to seek markets for the people’s produce, so they are able to earn up to $100 to $200 a day.
“And this way we do not see what we saw on Monday again.”
The registrations process for those who are interested in traveling overseas for work has been postponed until further notice.