Samoan government worried about seasonal workers' affairs

Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell.
Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell. Photo credit: RNZ

Samoan authorities worried about families being broken apart by affairs are considering allowing only single workers to take part in foreign seasonal worker schemes.

Affairs while workers were overseas were 'not a major problem' the interim minister of labour Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell said, but the numbers should be prevented from escalating, Newsline Samoa reported.

Lautafi said if the issue continued then his ministry would review the seasonal worker programme and only single workers may end up being recruited.

He said those who had affairs away from home had given the programme a bad name, but the government was copping the blame for breaking up families.

"I do not blame Australia if any changes are made [to the scheme for workers going there]. It is only a small number of people who are doing this but they are giving the whole scheme a bad name."

More opportunities in Australia had recently opened up, and Lautafi said this was "great news".

"More than 1000 workers now work on the scheme in Australia and numbers are increasing, especially with Samoa remaining Covid free.

"Some of the companies are hiring from us, and if this is successful they would offer more for our people to come over."

Many families have benefitted from the seasonal work scheme both financially and because of the opportunity to learn new skills, which could then be used to start a business back home in Samoa.

Lautafi said the success of the scheme showed how well HRPP had governed.

There are close to 3000 people available in Samoa who are ready to travel and work.