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1060 workers sent to Australia, NZ

1060 workers sent  to Australia, NZ
Minister of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate
March 14
10:00 2018

More than a thousand seasonal workers have been sent to Australia and New Zealand since the signing of the Seasonal Work Schemes in 2015, Parliament was told yesterday.

Minister for Employment Jone Usamate said 1060 workers had been sent to the two countries from 2015 to February this year with 600 deployed to New Zealand and 460 to Australia.

He said there were 11 females and 944 male workers who are employed by 33 employers.

“The scheme and recruitment are growing and we will continue to work on increasing the number of workers recruited from Fiji,’’ Mr Usamate said.

“In fact last week we sent the largest single number of workers to be recruited at one time, that is 82 workers to New Zealand,” Mr Usamate said.

Mr Usamate said the Fijian diaspora in the two countries has been a challenge for the ministry, as the diaspora had been misleading the workers with misguided advice and breaking their employment contract  and therefore got them into trouble.

He said to address the challenge, the ministry was looking at possibilities of appointing liaison officers in the two countries who would undertake pastoral work and market Fijian workers.

Mr Usamate said that the process of screening and selecting people to enter the workforce was proving to be a success and had been commended by both countries.

He said that currently most workers were from Cakaudrove, Macuata, Ba, Tailevu and Ra, Lomaiviti and Nadroga/ Navosa.

Opposition Whip Mikaele Leawere acknowledged that New Zealand and Fiji were rebuilding their relationship and expressed hope and unwavering support.

Responding to Mr Usamate, Mr Leawere said the seasonal scheme did not only provide for Fiji’s economy but it could be questioned if the Government considered hiring the workers to share their knowledge and expertise attained from overseas.

“The workers to share their expertise attained from overseas in order to help the Fijian economy grow, many are home and could be employed by the government to develop the economy,” he said.

Mr Leawere said most of the seasonal workers in Fiji went to New Zealand and Australia and were engaged in the primary industries, which was good but it was also important to explore other means and get seasonal workers to engage in other types of works in the two countries.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa


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