9 Sep 2003

Cook Islands labour director says workers' complaints unfounded

11:35 am on 9 September 2003

The Cook Islands Director of Labour, David Greig, says wild allegations about the working conditions of immigrant employees, are not true.

A group of Fijian immigrants employed in hotels and motels have claimed they were being forced to work very long hours, in one case from 7am to 9pm, as well as encountering verbal and physical abuse.

David Greig says he's investigated the allegations and although long hours are worked, there are verbal contracts in place which state that anything above 40 hours goes towards paying for their accommodation and food.

Mr Greig says he's discussed the problem with the immigration authorities and now wants to see written contracts put in place.

"It's very difficult to monitor the employment issues that are happening, at the workplace, so I have endorsed to the immigration authority to include the Employment Contract as part of the criteria for consideration to issue a work permit to any foreign workers."

Mr Greig is not pursuing any prosecution against the motel which was named by a worker willing to act as a witness over the conditions.