The Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour confirmed the temporary suspension of the Seasonal Worker Scheme until further notice.
All the flights scheduled for seasonal workers for the month of April heading for New Zealand and Australia have been cancelled.
This is outlined in a statement issued by the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Fepula’i Roger Toleafoa.
According to Fepuleai, there are minor amendments to the Seasonal Worker Scheme program in Australia and New Zealand hence the temporary suspension.
Minister of Public Enterprises, Leatinuu Wayne So’oialo told Radio Polynesia this morning that Cabinet is awaiting a full report from the respective Ministry on the review of the entire seasonal working scheme program.
The Cabinet approved review was sought following complaints by the Seasonal Workers in Australia.
Two Samoan men appeared before an Australian parliamentary inquiry into the seasonal working scheme and testified on the bad working conditions in Australia.
Last month Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’fa said Samoa Government is reviewing the recognised seasonal worker scheme due to a number of issues uncovered including local employees resigning and opting for work overseas.
However, this program was initially set up for the unemployed. This is not limited to the private sector but also the Government said the Prime Minister.
At the time, the Prime Minister reminded there are Samoa’s representatives in New Zealand and Australia looking into the issues raised by the seasonal workers, adding the seasonal worker scheme was initiated after dialogues between Government and so when issues arise it’s somewhat “sensitive matters”.
The Prime Minister urged the people of Samoa employed under the seasonal working schemes to follow the protocols in place when they encounter issues so these matters can be addressed amicably to address it with their representatives.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said business and Government Ministries have expressed concerns over their employees who have opted to go overseas for work.
The Prime Minister said this program was meant only for the unemployed, so there is a lapse in the criteria of eligibility and that is what the Government will be looking into.