NEWS

In Tonga: Fijians ‘Mistreated’

The Ministry for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations will look into investigating the alleged ill-treatment of Fijian workers by their local employers in Tonga. Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial
20 Jan 2016 14:55
In Tonga: Fijians ‘Mistreated’
Delainamasi Government School students celebrated the first day of school with the opening of their new school block in Nasinu yesterday. PHOTO JONA KONATACI.

The Ministry for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations will look into investigating the alleged ill-treatment of Fijian workers by their local employers in Tonga.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Semi Koroilavesau told the Fiji Sun; he was alerted after receiving an electronic mail on Tuesday night stating the alleged current working conditions that Fijians are facing in the island kingdom.

“I have instructed our executives to investigate the matter and submit a brief on findings and what can be done to correct the situation.

“My initial brief this morning is; this has happened before with private recruiting agencies when the Ministry is not involved in the process,” he said.

Among Fijians who said they were mistreated in Tonga was Narere resident in Nasinu, Mereseini Ledua. The 50-year-old said she regretted the decision of leaving her job in Fiji and taking up the job offer in Tonga.

“I worked for a hotel in Nadi before I went to Tonga; the job offer was recommended by my former manager from the hotel; she had a friend in Tonga who was friends with the owner of the company that I was going to work for in Tonga.

“The only reason my manager agreed to the offer was because of the good working conditions they promised; but when I went to Tonga I found out those were all just false promises,” she said.

Ms Ledua said she was promised to work in a bar or restaurant with a good salary.

“When I reached Tonga I found out that I was going to work in a bakery and to clean two houses.”

Her starting salary was 200 pa’anga, equivalent to F$195 per week, then it increased to 300 pa’anga (F$293).

“I was promised a lot of things before I left Fiji like: I will have to work for eight hours only; I won’t work during public holidays; work eight hours a day and get paid for overtime but those were all just false promises,” she said.

Ms Ledua also claimed they were not even given the right to go to church and worked for a year and five months from Monday to Sunday without getting a day off.

“The owner of the bakery used to get angry when I go to church; they use to tell me that I was sent to Tonga to work and not to go to church; and even when we visited other Fijians they would get angry at us; they did this because they were scared we might share what we were going through to other people in the community.”

One night she said when on her way from work she met a Fijian woman running away from her employer who was mistreating her and not releasing her passport.

“On the first two months I requested to come to Fiji after seeing the working conditions; the employers didn’t want to give my passport so I decided to endure it for a little longer with the hope that conditions will change but things just got worse,” she said.

Ms Ledua said the turning point was the day she got ill and ended up bed ridden for days.

“From then I told myself that I am going home; one way or the other; I went straight to my employer and told them to book my flight, hand my passport and send me to Fiji; I also told them that from that day I will not work ever again until the day they send me back to Fiji; even if

I have to die on my bed.

“I didn’t share anything with my family in Fiji because I didn’t want anyone to be worried about me; in a few days I was sent back to Fiji and reunited with my family.”

 

Edited by Paula Tuvuki
Feedback:arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper