Samoan PM bans whole villages from NZ worker scheme | Pacific Beat

Samoan PM bans whole villages from NZ worker scheme

Samoan PM bans whole villages from NZ worker scheme

Updated 8 October 2013, 15:56 AEDT

Samoa's prime minister is unapologetic over the banning of seven villages from participating in the seasonal worker scheme in New Zealand.

Tuilaepa Sailele issued the ban after men from those villages got into trouble in New Zealand.

He says villages and their chiefs have a collective responsibility to ensure their people don't ruin the scheme for others

Tuilaepa says there are hundreds of villages that would like the chance to send people to work temporarily in New Zealand horticultural industry.

Presenter:Bruce Hill

Speaker:Tuilaepa Sailele, prime minister, Samoa


SAILELE: We have a zero tolerance policy whereby the people that come to work have been forewarned that they must never commit any actions that would jeopardise the scheme, in the sense that they have to abide by the laws of New Zealand and Australia. This is understood by our people here and we also do not want to jeopardise the efforts by the farmers who have invested so much to bring our people over to work on their plantations, on their farms. The Seasonal Workers Scheme is one where the leaders of the Forum Island governments have been talking about a lot with both New Zealand and Australian governments to give the workers from the islands more opportunities to have employment opportunities through these kinds of schemes and it requires of the government to be vigilant against those who do not honour the agreements made to put on their best behaviours and abide by the code already agreed to.
HILL: What sort of things have these people done in Australia and New Zealand that's got the governments so upset?
SAILELE: Well, on in respect of New Zealand, we normally have problems with those who get drunk and end up damaging some of the farmers properties, like vehicles.
There are other things, but I think that is enough to make reference to the point in mind.
HILL: But, by banning people from entire villages from participating because people from that village have gotten up to some mischief. Isn't that a collective punishment? You're punishing people who haven't themselves done anything wrong?
SAILELE: It's a collective responsibility for the elders of the village, the chiefs to ensure that those who have the benefit of joining the scheme will be the ones that will bring honour, not dishonour to the villages. So it is a good scheme in the sense also the elders of the villages be part of the monitoring process to ensure that only the best will be those who are sent in.
HILL: What's the response been like from the villages that you've banned from participating? I imagine..
SAILELE: Well so far, there is no criticism. I think the general agreement that the policy is good.
Remember that we have many, many villages that are also not benefiting from the scheme, despite the fact that they have been, the leaders have been in and out trying to have groups from their villages to participate. We have hundreds-and-hundreds of villages that have yet to benefit under these schemes.
HILL: Is Samoa benefiting from this scheme, is it working as envisaged?
SAILELE: Oh yes, very much so. There are many families who have had their homes repaired or new homes built. Others have invested in buying vehicles, others buying lands, freehold lands and for community projects, like churches and school buildings, community halls. The scheme has helped enormously towards the construction of these for the villages.

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