Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi says he will be having a session later this week, with over 600 seasonal workers due to depart for New Zealand at the end of January.
The Recognised Seasonal Employees Program known as RSE had been adversely affected by the slowing New Zealand economy due to the impacts of COVID-19.
This year, hundreds of families will once again benefit from income and remittances from the 600 workers set to resume the scheme, put on hold for several months due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
During his weekly programme with Radio 2AP, Tuilaepa says there are over 600 workers preparing to depart for New Zealand and Australia, and he wants to remind our seasonal workers that safety is a priority, especially for road travel.
“E oo atu i le 600 i latou ua fuafua e toe faimalaga atu i galuega faavaitaimi i Niu Sila ma Ausetalia….e lua lava kilia e manaomia e tagata nei e le pei o isi atunuu e taitasi,”
“Safety is the number one priority these workers should always remember, not only at work and especially on the road driving,” he said.
Last year, four RSE workers died from motor vehicle accidents while on short term work assignments; their wives and children devastated by the news that would never see their husband or father again.
Vaetasi Asiata, 36, of Satupaitea, Savaii was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident in the Bay of Plenty area in August 2020.
Two months later in October a father of five, Vaa Tino Tagiilima from the village of Lano in Savaii was tragically killed in a 2 car collission near Napier. The van carrying 10 RSE workers was being driven by a New Zealand employee of the firm they had been assigned to.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa added that strict medical clearances would also be needed by each worker as part of the pre-departure process.
About New Zealand and Australia Short Term Seasonal Employment Schemes coordinated by Samoa’s Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour; working collaboratively with New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and also the Labour Mobility Assistance Program of Australia.
New Zealand – Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE)
Samoa’s involvement with the NZ based RSE scheme commenced in April 2007, which allows for the temporary movement of labour for seasonal work and it has been 10 years since Samoa joined this program. RSE is strictly for the horticulture and viticulture sectors and employment period for workers ranges from 3 to a maximum of 7 months.
Australia – Seasonal Workers Program (SWP)
Samoa’s involvement with the Australian based program commenced in July 2011 when it was referred to as the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS), and has continued on from its official launching as the Seasonal Workers Program (SWP) in July 2012. Much similar to the NZ based RSE program, SWP was designed with the intent that it would become a vital tool for meeting the needs of the horticulture industry for recurrent labour, while also contributing to the economic development of participating countries which now include: Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.