“Seasonal Workers Extramarital Affairs Manageable” says CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 05 APRIL 2019: The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL), says problems created by seasonal workers getting into extra-marital affairs is at a manageable level.

Recently, the Minister for MCIL raised concern over the problem reported on social media and by family members reporting the problem directly to the Ministry.

Pulotu Chu Ling confirmed that his office had received complaints and had investigated them.

“For justice, we cannot judge on rumours, but relay the concern to our Liaison Officer on the ground in New Zealand to check on these rumours,” said Pulotu.

“There are still minor problems but it is manageable now,” he said.

The problem relating to such affairs received public attention when it was featured in a popular song on the radio both in Samoa and overseas.

Pulotu said such behaviour result in losing the opportunity to work under the scheme again, the loss of income for the family and the possibility of being penalised by the village.

A group of seasonal workers undergoing orientation before departing Samoa to work overseas

This is why the Ministry conduct orientation programs and meetings with the individuals before they leave Samoa to work overseas.

Pulotu said during orientation, they emphasise to the workers the importance of the program, what to expect and the Ministry’s overseas team takes over further orientation once they arrive overseas.

“This is to ensure we provide services for the benefit of our people from here before they leave Samoa, at the same time working closely in partnership with employers in New Zealand and Australia, to ensure we understand their requirements and expectations of our people,” said Pulotu.

“The most important thing to us is to ensure our people know their work agreements, and understand the conditions of their work contracts.”

Seasonal Workers On The Rise
Pulotu said the current number of workers in New Zealand is over 2,000 and in Australia 500 all under the seasonal workers scheme.

He said the program started small but in 2017, the number rose to 1,500; 1,800 in 2018 and more than 2,000 are now working under the scheme in New Zealand.

“Although our overseas employers want more workers from Samoa, we cannot send more than the limited number allowed by the New Zealand Government,” said Pulotu.

The increase is also due to opportunities arising from the failure of other Pacific island workers.

For Australia, there is no limit to the number of workers needed as it is demand driven, but there are also a lot of Australian workers on the scheme.

Nine Working Under Australia’s Labour Mobility Scheme
Pulotu confirmed two Samoan workers are now working in the Hospitality sector and seven with a meat company bringing the number to 9 working under the Australia-Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme.

The scheme is new but the interest is fast growing with 20 already on the waiting list for the meat company.

Pulotu said the Government is continuing discussions with overseas employers and he believes that more opportunities will materialise.