155 Samoan seasonal workers depart for New Zealand

The workers departed Samoa’s Faleolo International Airport on a special flight Thursday.

This is the second group of workers to arrive in New Zealand to take up work under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

About 780 seasonal workers are expected to travel to New Zealand over the coming months.


Photo NZ High Commission in Samoa/Facebook Caption: Part of the group of 155 seasonal workers waiting to board their flight at Samoa's Faleolo International Airport 


Seasonal workers depart Samoa for New Zealand

Close to 780 Samoan workers in total will head across over January and February to take part in the 2021 horticulture and viticulture season.

The Samoan cohort is part of a group of 2,000 Pacific RSE workers expected to arrive in New Zealand over the coming months.

The RSE Scheme enables the flow of much needed income and skills between New Zealand and their Pacific neighbours.


Photo New Zealand High Commission Caption: Seasonal workers at the airport in Samoa  


NZ RSE scheme boosting employment in the regions

Business expansion has boosted employment in regional areas, with RSE employers hiring more New Zealanders from the local community, including through Work and Income NZ.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Pacifica Labour and Skills Manager, George Rarere says the 2019 survey highlights the positive impact of RSE workers on businesses and the local community.

“A stable seasonal workforce has meant more employers have been able to grow their business operations and put more investment into plant equipment and offer job opportunities to locals,” Mr Rarere says.

Samoan workers expelled from New Zealand RSE scheme

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said not only have the workers been banned from the scheme but their villages have also been blacklisted until further notice.

This means no more workers from these villages will be allowed to go on the scheme.

"Time and again, I have personally advised all our RSE workers before leaving to remember the importance of their seasonal employment engagement because it's their families, children and their villages which are reaping the fruits of their hard labour," he said.

NZ union keen to support Pacific RSE workers

Over 11,000 workers from nine Pacific countries worked in New Zealand's horticulture and viticulture sectors last year under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme.

New Zealand recently announced it would increase the number of Pacific workers on the scheme to 12,850.

Amalgamated's national secretary Maurice Davis says they're trying to break down resistance to unions in the islands by explaining their role.

Fiji RSE workers list concerns with NZ work environment

Last month the Fiji government announced it had banned entire villages from taking part in the Recognised Seasonal Employer ccheme in New Zealand or the similar Australian scheme after complaints from the New Zealand government about misconduct and disorderly behaviour by some Fijian workers.

Now the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate, has met with some of the Fijian workers in this country to " hear their views of the challenges faced."

Pacific labour mobility under spotlight in Samoa

RNZI reports among items on the agenda was a region wide business travel card as well as streamlining processes for issuing work visas.

The Forum secretariat's trade policy advisor Veniana Qalo said barriers to regional labour mobility were identified.

"The high cost of processing visas and permits and the delays in the issuance of work permits. The contract duration limitations. The linkages between the employer needs and ability of employees. Also the lack of a skills database that the employer could draw from."

Samoa seasonal worker scheme to be expanded

Tentatively a pilot project to this effect will start before the end of the year, the Chief Executive with the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo announced at the signing ceremonies this week of Memorandum of Understanding with villages also related the seasonal workers.

The binding agreement is geared to safeguard the integrity of seasonal employment partnerships with New Zealand and Australia.