Labour mobility assistance programme launched in Samoa

Samoans selected for seasonal employment in Australia and New Zealand must pass a fitness test as one of the mandatory requirements.

The requirement which is effective immediately has been made possible under the Labour Mobility Assistance Programme, (LMAP) funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support the 10 Pacific Island countries including Samoa that participate in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme.

The implementing agency on the local front is the Seasonal Employment Unit, (SEU) under the umbrella of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The programme is targeting those who applied for seasonal work under the Australia’s Seasonal Workers Program, (SWP) and the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employers through the SEU from 2015 until now.

“LMAP is a joint partnership between Australia and Samoa aimed at strengthening our labour mobility through the Seasonal Workers Programme.

“And it comes as a huge injection to Samoa’s efforts to increase the number of people participating as seasonal workers,” says MPMC’s Chief Executive Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo.

“It is essential that we send the best possible people each time, who are physically and mentally fit and strong because it will build a strong reputation for Samoan workers and encourage employers to seek more workers from Samoa in the future, “he added.

Agafili noted that aside from uplifting the profile of Samoan seasonal workers as dependable and reliable employees, LMAP will also up skill the capacity of SEU staff who will be working with Carolyn Peterken, the Capacity Building Advisor for the Pacific Labour Mobility Assistance Programme from Australia’s DFAT.

“Seasonal work in Australia is extremely physically demanding,” says Peterken.

“Employers want workers who are fit and strong, and have the stamina to work hard all day every day, even when it is very hot. They need to be free of significant medical conditions, and have a good, positive attitude and be able to work well in a team.”

Peterkenwill visit Samoa on a regular basis to work with the SEU to improve their processes.

Aside from supporting the fitness assessments she has worked with the Seasonal Employment Unit to develop systems and processes to strengthen the registration process and better manage data on registered applicants.

She is also providing training and materials to improve their pre-departure briefings before workers head to Australia.

To roll out the LMAP an initial phase, 20 applicants who applied for RSE jobs have been selected at random with Rosemarie Esera, CEO of Netball Samoa, has been engaged to run the fitness tests, with support from her under-21 netball team.

Last month, a 45 year old father of two from Sagone village in Savaii Island died from a suspected heart attack in New Zealand sparking concerns about the health of seasonal workers.

He had worked under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme for several years and was employed at a cool store at Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty at the time of his death.

Since Samoa started participating in the Australia’s Seasonal Workers Program, (SWP) in 2012 the number of jobs has increased from 20 in the first year to 160 this year.

Just recently, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi was reassured by Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Julia Bishop that her government will be extending the SWP to include jobs in trade, tourism and hospitality.