Samoa National Provident Fund deductions for the 565 Samoans employed by Mr Apple under the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Workers (R.S.E.) will commence before the end of this month.
In Hawkes Bay last week, Minister of Labour Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell leading a government delegation and Mr. Apple officials entered a pact for Mr. Apple to apply automatic deductions from the Samoan R.S..E workers’ wages for their S.N.P.F. contributions.
And other R.S.E. Employers with Samoa workers are receptive to the initiative from Apia, says Chief Executive, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling.
Other delegation members include Auckland-based Trade Commissioner, Dr. Fonoti Fuatai, Lemalu Nele Leilua, Samoa R.S.E. Liaison Officer and Fuatino Taituuga Savaiinaea with M.C.I.L’s Employment Unit.
The initiative will guarantee the Samoa workers will be entitled to benefits from the Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) which includes a death benefit of $5,000 not to mention the annual dividend of not less than 4% as mandated by law.
Government is also planning an re-integration initiative to create new business creation opportunities for R.S.E. workers or life after R.S.E.
The incentive is for R.S.E. workers to be eligibly for financing from the Small Business Enterprise Center or the Development Bank of Samoa to start a business after their temporary employment in New Zealand.
Consequently, throughout this week, Lautafi and his delegation have been visiting R.S.E. Employers and their Samoan workers in the Hawkes Bay Region, Nelson and Tauranga.
And the employers are singing praises of their Samoan workers, Employment Officer Savai’inaea.
“Our Samoan workers are highly ranked and praised by their respective employers. Our workers performance is among the best,” she added
Introduced in 2007, the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Employer scheme allows eligible Pacific workers to undertake seasonal work (in planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops) for an approved employer in the horticulture and viticulture industries in New Zealand.
Workers can stay in New Zealand for up to seven months in any eleven month period (although actual times can vary depending on the employer). The R.S.E. scheme was developed to give the industry a more reliable source of Pacific workers from year to year.
New Zealand employers must go through an accreditation process to achieve R.S.E. status and they need to demonstrate a commitment to recruiting and training New Zealanders before looking for workers from overseas.
A limit of 10,500 R.S.E. places are available each year – with the number of places available for Pacific workers varying depending on the forecast of New Zealand workers available and industry demand.
The R.S.E. scheme has strengthened relationships between New Zealand and Samoa with Samoa currently the third largest country sending workers to New Zealand.
Samoa was and is still the third biggest sending country for R.S.E. with over 1,600 Samoans on the R.S.E. payroll compared to 600 plus ten years ago.