By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 08 SEPTEMBER 2020: Two Samoan seasonal workers have died in a head-on collision with an on coming vehicle on the treacherous Indian Ocean drive in Perth last Sunday. One is a father of seven.
Coming a fortnight after another seasonal worker died in a similar accident in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, the tragedies have had an impact on the country.
“All of us are impacted in a way,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour (MCIL) which the seasonal workers programme is supervised.
The two workers are from the Safata team and are serving their second term at a poultry farm in Perth.
“We feel for them as we have met them personally through the pre-orientation programme,” Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling told Talamua.
“The incident in Perth Australia is an unfortunate and sad one and we have to prioritise informing the families of the deceased,” said Pulotu.
He said the accident happened as the deceased were returning to camp from doing their weekly shopping when their car collided with an on-coming vehicle.
All the seasonal workers are insured. “All insurance are done through the Ministry before they leave,” said Pulotu.
He hopes the repatriation flight at the end of the month will still be on so the bodies of these 3 young men can be brought home for burial.
He also emphasised that before all seasonal workers leave the country, they go through a pre-departure orientation program where they are informed not only of the laws in the host countries, their safety, health and discipline while in a foreign country.
Government continues negotiations
The Government is continuing discussions with Australia and New Zealand to ensure that the welfare and safety of seasonal workers are taken care of.
Pulotu said the Ministry continues to liaise closely with workers on a weekly basis using zoom but also through Liaison Officers in both countries.
“The objective is to encourage and update them on efforts to arrange return flights but also mindful of the health requirements hence the need to communicate regularly,” said Pulotu.
There are over 500 seasonal workers currently working in Australia and 600 in New Zealand.
“Things may not be normal with the pandemic but we hope for a smooth repatriation of our workers when flights and other health requirements have been organized,” he said.