TALAMUA ONLINE – The Recognized Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme should be extended to include other trades.
The issue of extending the scheme was raised at the three day conference in Apia last week. Pacific Island Countries pushed for the inclusion of other trades other than horticulture and viticulture auto (drivers) employment.
During the conference, Samuelu Lati who was employed under the RSE scheme for eight years shared his success story. He has established a tourism business at Poutasi. Lati worked for Appleseed in Hawkes Bay, Hastings for the past seven years and the money he saved has been used to set u a traditional canoeing and tours tourism business at Poutasi.
Another Poutasi man, Uiti Lagavale who worked for the RSE scheme for two years, is also in the tourism business.
If by extending to other trade can help developed the workers back home, then New Zealand Labour MP, Su’a Viliamu Su’a said RSE should seriously consider other trades.
The Horticulture & Viticulture New Zealand RSE Conference was opened by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi who last year invited the conference to come to Samoa for the very first time.
Su’a who attended the conference supported the idea of extending RSE to trades currently not covered by the scheme.
Su’a said RSE should look at including tourism and hospitality and other potential trades under the scheme.
“The only viable option that can be perceived is to lift the cap of worker visas allowed on the scheme,” said Tuilaepa.
He said by lifting the cap, it becomes a three way win, the Government, the employers and the workers.
“RSE may only be the beginning but we all believe it has the makings of a scheme that can go far and beyond,” said Tuilaepa.
“The industry’s goal to grow the sector to a certain level of achievement would mean increasing workers capacity and capabilities than currently being applied,” said Tuilaepa.
“From Samoa’s perspective, the RSE scheme though it might be perceived to be an ambitious and complex policy, it none-the-less an answer to the ills of labour shortage for your horticulture and viticulture businesses, and at the same time enabling Pacific workers to enter, work and earn in New Zealand on a seasonal basis every year,” Tuilaepa said.
Samoa and Vanuatu dominate the number of workers under the scheme every year since 2007 when the scheme was first introduced with Fiji, Nauru and Papua New Guinea recently joining the scheme.
Samoa has sent 8821 workers since 2007 while Vanuatu‘s total workers sits at 2075.
Several farm owners told Talamua they are generally happy with the performance of the workers however, there are little issues that have created problems such as the language and behaviour of the workers sometimes.
Su’a said before a group is send to New Zealand, there should be a pre-departure training for all the workers.
“They should also be informed and be educated on how to articulate their rights and claims as employees,” said Su’a.
He said the workers should not allow the employers to take advantage of them and the workers must also understand the rights and responsibilities of workers in New Zealand.
Some of the workers have never been outside Samoa before and once in New Zealand, they enjoy the freedom and sometimes end up in trouble.
Some workers from the islands are awaiting court cases in New Zealand.