SUVA, (FIJI LIVE) – The first Fijians to participate in Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program will depart for Australia tomorrow.
This first recruitment has come only days after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Suva between the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jioji Konrote and Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Steven Ciobo.
The four seasonal workers have been recruited by the approved employer ‘Plant Grow Pick’ and will be placed in Emerald, Queensland, cultivating and harvesting table grapes.
An Australian Department of Employment official travelled to Suva to assist officials in Fiji’s Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations to deliver a comprehensive pre-deployment briefing to these first Fijian Seasonal Workers.
“In addition to the horticulture industry, the Seasonal Worker Program is also being trialled in the accommodation, aquaculture, cotton and cane sectors,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement announcing the Fiji-Australia MOU signing last month.
“I am confident Fiji will be a valuable partner under this program as we continue to strengthen our relationship,” Minister Bishop added.
Fiji joins nine other countries currently participating in the Seasonal Worker Program. Fiji joined the Seasonal Worker Program on 2 April 2015. The Seasonal Worker Program contributes to economic development in participating countries and helps Australian employers unable to find enough seasonal labour to meet demand.
The four workers were selected by Australian employers from a work-ready pool managed by the Fijian Government’s Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations.
Meanwhile, Fiji’s Employment Minister, Jioji Konrote says Fijians employed under the New Zealand’s Recognized Seasonal Employer Workers Scheme should return home in September with an earning of $18,000 FJD ($12,000 NZD).
While responding to a question posed in Parliament about the working conditions and the current status of Fijian workers under seasonal employment scheme in New Zealand, Minister Konrote said they have received favorable and positive report from the employers and the workers have settled well.
“The first batch of 12 workers are based in Hawke’s Bay, the other 12 are based in Bay of Plenty while the remaining 6 who will leave the country next month will be based in Nelson.”
“We have negotiated their pay and they are earning nothing less than $14.50 (NZD) per hour and they will work for 40 hours a week. They should earn $400-$500 a week and should return home with a saving of around $18,000 (FJD).”
He added that the workers are all well looked after and are covered for compensation under the NZ laws.
“Since its winter in New Zealand now, all the workers have been given warm clothing and equipment to work in cold conditions and they are well protected under the NZ labour compensation system.”
Fiji is expected to send more people to New Zealand after the completion of the six month pilot scheme.