12 Aug 2022

Samoan govt puzzled as to how seasonal workers were able to leave

8:34 am on 12 August 2022

The Samoa government is questioning how seasonal workers were allowed to leave Samoa for New Zealand this week without approval.

All seasonal workers who take up employment in New Zealand and Australia must first be approved by Cabinet.

The government suspended the scheme in March while a special committee conducted a review.

Tongan RSE workers in Motueka.

Tongan RSE workers in Motueka. Photo: Supplied/Charlotte Bedford

The Minister for Commerce, Industry and Labour, Leatinu'u Wayne Sooialo, said the committee report had not been completed and he wants to know how RSE workers managed to fly to New Zealand without formal approval.

Samoa Observer is reporting 17 fruit pickers and freezing workers left Samoa this week.

The Ministry's CEO, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, says he's puzzled by how this has happened.

"Every flight has to be approved by Cabinet first and there have been incidents where some seasonal workers leave before approval," he said.

Recently, the Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa said her government was looking at halting the open recruitment process for RSE workers.

She said the government in Apia wants to strengthen the RSE scheme, not stop it.