(SAMOA) — The proposal by government for seasonal workers to be eligible for permanent residency — (under the New Zealand 1,100 annual quota for Samoans) — is on the table for future bilateral talks.
The issue was raised by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi during bilateral talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters Monday, March 5, 2018, in Apia.
And later in the week when the Prime Minister Tuilaepa hosted his weekly media program with Taimi male Palemia and Talamua.com. He remains confident that Wellington will consider the merits of the request from Apia.
“The RSE employers are singing praises for our Samoan workers. Our workers are trustworthy, skillful, dependable and have proven themselves capable of performing up to the expectations of the RSE employers,” said Tuilaepa.
“Samoa is also the first country from the nine participating Pacific Islands in the RSE program to appoint a Resident RSE Coordinator to live in Auckland.
“This is to ensure that our workers do not compromise the program by misbehaving and to ensure that we follow the RSE guidelines and regulations to the letter.
“On that note, government is also playing the hands on role by initiating a pre-departure program for our workers to be well equipped when they do take up their seasonal employment.”
The pre-departures include training in budgeting and wise spending of their hard earned wages.
There is also a health check requirement for all workers to undertake.
And the village councils are also playing a role through MOU’s signed with government in a partnership to protect the integrity of Seasonal Workers program for their villagers to obey the RSE policies and regulations.
“The RSE as I have said time and again it’s a win win situation and has contributed millions into New Zealand’s economy. And it is providing a valuable source of income for local families to build new homes, start new businesses and even purchase vehicles and other home appliances for their families.
“Some have also invested their wages in providing education for their children.”
The Prime Minister also noted that the success of the NZ Seasonal Workers may have also prompted the Australians for follow the Kiwis example.
“And I have been assured that there will be a pay raise for RSE workers including Samoans,” he added.
All in all, the Prime Minister is mindful that when it comes to the RSE employment, it’s a delicate and political issue but he remains optimistic that there is hope for Samoa’s request.
And Prime Minister Ardern agrees with Prime Minister Tuilaepa that it’s not a new issue when it comes to bilateral talks between the two countries.
"It’s not a new issue,” Ardern told reporters.
“We are very mindful that there are two competing interests here and we are trying to balance them.
“There is the Seasonal Works scheme very much to ensure that there is a returning work force and with the quota that is about opportunities and making sure that there are decent jobs available.
“We’re keeping those separate because we are trying to balance the two programs,” said the New Zealand Government leader.
This is the 11th year for Samoa to be included in the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Works Employment scheme.
It provides temporary employment for Samoans and eight other Pacific Island nations to work in New Zealand to help with horticulture and viticulture industries.
Samoa started with a little over 600 workers in her first year.
That number has sky-rocked to over 1,600.
(Source: Media Release, Press Secretariat, Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet)