24 Nov 2020

Over 300 Fijians secure work in Australia amid Covid-19

11:44 am on 24 November 2020

More than 300 Fijians are heading to work in Australia's meat industry under the Pacific Labour Scheme.

The first group of 172 workers leave Fiji tomorrow while 170 will head to Australia next month.

The first group of 172 Fijians leave for Australia's meatworks industry.

The first group of 172 Fijians leave for Australia's meatworks industry. Photo: Facebook/Fiji govt

Fiji's Employment Minister Parveen Kumar said unlike the six-month Seasonal Worker Programme, workers under the Pacific Labour Scheme have three-year contracts.

Speaking to the semi-skilled workers at an orientation event in Suva, Kumar said the scheme was also part of both governments' Vuvale Partnership forged last year.

The minister said the opportunity was timely particularly when Fijian workers had suffered layoffs, redundancies and reduced hours due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also thanked the employer, Regional Workforce Management (RWM), who would take care of all the quarantine costs for the 172 workers.

Parveen Kumar.

Parveen Kumar. Photo: Facebook/Fiji govt

"This is a huge boost for Fiji," said Kumar.

The minister urged the group on the need to be diligent with their work because of the opportunity given to them to be able to provide for their families "during these difficult times".

"The pandemic has dramatically impacted on many of our fellow citizens, including our labour force and this window of opportunity during these challenging times is a blessing.

"On behalf of the Fijian government, I sincerely acknowledge the offer by the Australian government and its continued support in the recruitment of Fijian workers under the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).

"These have directly benefited many of our citizens."

The Regional Workforce Management employed 193 Fijians to date in the meatworks industry across rural Australia.

The latest recruitment was carried out in January and February this year.