Seasonal workers fly out despite travel suspension

By Adel Fruean 25 April 2022, 8:14PM

An Air New Zealand repatriation flight on Sunday returned to Auckland with seasonal workers, despite a temporary suspension announced by the Government on seasonal work travel. 

More than 200 passengers flew out of Samoa for New Zealand on Sunday with passengers including seasonal workers as well as Samoan sailors destined to work on international vessels, a government official has confirmed. 

The C.E.O. for the Ministry for Commerce Industry and Labour, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, told the Samoa Observer on Monday that their Ministry is working on improvements to Samoa's seasonal workers scheme. 

Asked if there are scheduled flights next month, despite the suspension of travel this month for seasonal workers, Pulotu said they are trying to limit seasonal work flights as the Ministry continues to make improvements to the processes connected to the schemes. 

He added that the Ministry will only allow flights into Samoa for seasonal workers depending on the approval of the Cabinet. 

“We are working to improve certain areas that need to be improved and continue if the Government has approved it,” the C.E.O. said. “In terms of the processes, it is easier to carry out when everything is certain. 

“It is because if we continue and there are complaints and issues then that it will worry or concern the Government and Ministry.”

Pulotu also confirmed that no overseas employers in Australia and New Zealand have pulled out seasonal work schemes to recruit Samoans. 

“I know there will be companies that will be affected about this uncertainty but the Ministry and the Minister have contacted them to explain the Government’s determination and that of the Ministry.”

The Minister for Commerce Industry and Labour, Leatinu'u Wayne So'oialo, previously said that the suspension of seasonal work flights would enable them to address outstanding issues.

Leatinu’u told the Soalepule program on EFKS TV2 that they need to slow things down so the issues which were brought to their attention can be addressed.

He said there were a number of issues that they needed to address, not only in terms of processes but also how applicants are accepted.

“But also the behaviour and attitudes of the people we have sent overseas. These are very serious and sensitive matters and we need to slow down the process so that we commit our efforts into solving these issues first."

There are currently over 6,000 people in Australia and New Zealand engaged under the seasonal worker programmes. 

"We now have more than 6,000 people already in New Zealand and Australia under this scheme, and if we keep sending more people without addressing the issues we have at hand, it will be very difficult for us to deal with the issues.

“So that's the advice we gave to M.C.I.L. to slow down the process for the next coming months.”

By Adel Fruean 25 April 2022, 8:14PM
Samoa Observer

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