Samoa
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Companies recruiting Samoan workers under RSE warned

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 24 JANUARY 2023: Cabinet’s decision to temporarily suspend sending Samoan workers under the Regional Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme has taken another twist with New Zealand and Australian companies threatening the chances of Samoan workers to be in the program.

This was revealed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio in parliament last week when he responded to more concerns raised by MPs about the Cabinet’s decision.

The former Cabinet Minister who was in charge of RSE in the previous government told parliament that Samoan workers are ranked number one in the program overseas.

Lautafi Selafi Purcell urged Cabinet to reconsider their decision “because those companies will not wait for Samoa.”

Although he supports the current review of the RSE program, his concern is losing the opportunity to other countries.

“It was not easy getting Samoa to where they are now in the program,” he said.

It was then that Tuala informed Parliament of the exchange of letters between himself and the companies recruiting Samoan workers.

“I have responded to them and informed them not to threaten or pressure us,” said Tuala.

The Cabinet will review the Sub-committees report and will take it from there, he said.

Tuala insisted that Cabinet has no intention to stop the program but priority must be given to the well-being of the Samoan workers and improvements must be made based on the Review Report, then the program will resume.

He also said New Zealand and Australia cannot stop the program because “they need us.”

No less than five thousand Samoan workers are currently employed under the program in New Zealand and Australia mainly in horticulture and the freezing works.

But serious employment issues affecting the welfare of the workers have emerged that prompted the Samoan government to call for a review before sending more Samoans under the scheme overseas.