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Ministry of Labour CEO seeks increase in seasonal employment schemes to Australia & NZ

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 1/11/2018

Government is seeking to increase the annual number of Tongans joining the seasonal employment schemes in Australia and New Zealand from two thousand to three thousand.

Speaking to Radio Tonga News, CEO of the Ministry of Labour – Edgar Cocker said, they are currently working together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on this matter as well as looking at employing more laborers from the outer islands as they have a good track record in the scheme in recent years.

Cocker said this move was to try and boost Tonga’s record with the seasonal employment scheme as there have been some incidents of Tongan laborers committing offences during their employment in Australia or New Zealand.

There is also a concern that future opportunities may be ruined by current laborers who exploit this employment opportunity. Cocker led a delegation from Tonga to the Annual Labor Mobility Conference held in the Solomon Islands last month, where Cocker says they addressed these issues surrounding the seasonal employment scheme.

One of the outcomes of that conference was establishing a committee to oversee the scheme for the collective Pacific Island nations involved.

Cocker said, some of the many challenges the laborers from Tonga face when in Australia or New Zealand, include difficulties around their wages, retirement and other benefits, but there was no clear solution to these issues as there was no channel for the laborers to voice their concerns.

However, Cocker reaffirmed the government’s commitment to resolving this issue, saying work is currently underway in addressing these matters.

© Radio and Television Tonga News