Employment

Employment minister in Australia to discuss expansion of seasonal worker scheme

The Minister for Employment, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau is currently in Australia to seek an expansion of its seasonal worker programme and follow up on claims of worker exploitation. Minister Koroilavesau told Radio New Zealand that he will be visiting all the employees and employers while in Australia. Our trip to Australia is basically based on having a […]

Peni Shute

April 19, 2016 9:38 am

The Minister for Employment, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau is currently in Australia to seek an expansion of its seasonal worker programme and follow up on claims of worker exploitation.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau. (Peni Shute/Newswire)
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau. (Peni Shute/Newswire)

Minister Koroilavesau told Radio New Zealand that he will be visiting all the employees and employers while in Australia.

Our trip to Australia is basically based on having a discussion with the Australian government, visiting all the employers and employees that are employed in the seasonal work programme.

I will have discussions both with the employers and the workers that are there now. I will also have discussions with the Australian government in general on the potential to send more workers from Fiji to be employed under the seasonal work programme.

The ministry has made a target of 500 extra workers to send to Australia under the Regional Seasonal Workers Scheme as Australia recently expanded the programme to include sectors like cattle and sheep.

Australia has removed the cap which is basically the numbers and the expansion of where our workers could be employed in and that is welcome news to Fiji.

We were basically trying to find more positions and slots for our Fijian workers because this programme, Fiji has concentrated it to rural, isolated areas around Fiji where there is no source of employment or commercial activities around the rural areas. That’s basically what we’re looking at and we are hoping to achieve more numbers.

Minister Koroilavesau said the discussion is that we should try and at least have about five hundred people who have already passed the test and are in the pool to go across to Australia and New Zealand.

Earlier this year, ABC investigations revealed that there was a group of seasonal workers from Fiji and Tonga being paid as little as $9/week after deductions to pick fruit and vegetables on Australian farms by a company that sponsored their visas under the Seasonal Worker Program.

Minister Koroilavesau said there is an understanding between the Fijian government and the Australian government.

The Australian government while workers are in Australia, they will handle everything that is related to our workers in Australia.

We have heard about the reports that are floating around, and we have asked for an update. We have not received that update but our visit is still going ahead.

And I presume that we will discuss these issues while we are there.

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