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Four Liaison Officers Approved for Seasonal Workers Program

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 22 SEPTEMBER 2022: The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL) is recruiting four Liaison Officers to assist Samoan workers under the Seasonal workers program in New Zealand the Labour Mobility scheme in Australia.

“MCIL is working on the PSC process of hiring two Liaison Officers for New Zealand and two for Australia,” said Leatinu’u Wayne Sooialo, the Minister for MCIL which the program is under.

Currently there is only one Liaison Officer for each country and having two is to address and resolve many issues arising and faced by the workers who complained of the lack of assistance from the Liaison Officers especially in Australia.

The seriousness of the issues got as far as two Samoan workers testifying before a Senate Committee in Australia about mistreatment and the lack of response from their Liaison Officer, Aufai Fulisialagitele Saleuesile.

When the problems surfaced, it became apparent that looking after over a thousand Samoan workers across Australia was too much for one person to handle.

The Government then called for a temporary hold as MCIL reviewed the scheme.

rse wayne sooialo
rse wayne sooialo

The Minister for Commerce, Industry & Labour Leatinu’u Wayne Sooialo.

Cabinet yet to discuss review report
Leatinu’u confirmed receipt of the report and has yet to be discussed by Cabinet.

Some of the issues include the eligibility criteria for workers accepted in the program and issues noted from complaints and behaviour of workers and employment contracts and working conditions.

“We are trying to slow down the process and number of groups sent over until we sort out issues of concern involving workers,” said Leatinu’u.

One issue of concern is workers leaving the program for their families in New Zealand and Australia.

The Minster also said that workers found to have breached their contracts are being identified and returned to Samoa.

Leatinu’u believes that the negative actions of some workers have reflected badly on a good program.

The seasonal workers program has recruited more than 11,000 Samoans since it was introduced and they have contributed tremendously to the development of not only their families and villages but the country’s economy.