NATION

Our Reputation Better : Usamate

  Fiji’s reputation for seasonal workers is improving, with employers in New Zealand seeking more Fijians to work on their farms, says the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations
11 Mar 2017 12:49
Our Reputation Better : Usamate
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate

 

Fiji’s reputation for seasonal workers is improving, with employers in New Zealand seeking more Fijians to work on their farms, says the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate.

In one case, Mr Usamate said Fijians from a village returning from New Zealand was asked by their employer to send over more of their fellow villagers.

Fiji has an allocation of 300 people out of the 10,500 approved by the New Zealand government for Pacific islanders.

Mr Usamate said meetings with new employers in New Zealand two weeks ago could see the required number increase.

Australia has no limit set for seasonal workers.

“Some of these workers have come back with savings from $10,000 to $15,000 after six months work and this is good money for those coming from rural areas,” the minister said.

“They have a minimum wage of around $15 but once they pick up on their performance they are paid on a piece rate system – the more you do, the more money you earn.”

He said if an employer in either country needed more workers, an application must be made to these governments, and employers were scrutinised.

“With this arrangement we feel a bit safer because we know that these employers have met the standards to employ seasonal workers,” Mr Usamate said.

With the programme gaining momentum, he said Government was targeting rural dwellers living far from towns and cities.

“Our target is tikina-based recruitment in these rural areas, the maritime region and through the rural advisory councillors for Fijians with Indian descent,” Mr Usamate said.

He held meetings in Ba on Monday where he met villagers from Toge and Nalotawa, rural advisory councillors from Tavua on Tuesday and some villages in Ra on Wednesday.

They received good responses with these tikina-based consultations, he said.

“We already have 1000 people who have gone through the assessments and medical checks.

“It is from this pool where we will get people to work in the farms,” he said.

Meanwhile, reports from workers who had complained of being short changed in Australia, Mr Usamate said they were investigating.

He said governments of Australia and New Zealand get personally involved if people have complaints.

Edited by Naisa koroi

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

 



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