New rules for three countries in the (NZ) Regional Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme
Radio New Zealand announced today, Wednesday, that new rules allowing seasonal workers to enter New Zealand without going through managed isolation have been welcomed in Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The relaxed restrictions for workers from the three countries in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are expected to be a boon for the tourism-reliant countries, which have had no visitors for the past 17 months.
But the RSE scheme includes workers from nine Pacific countries, and Solomon Islands are now asking why their RSE workers weren't allowed the same relaxed quarantine rules as Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
In the Solomon Islands, the leader of the opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale, has said he did not understand why his country was not included.
"I wondered what criteria was used in selecting the countries that New Zealand has extended that privilege to, and whether it is any different for Solomon Islands."
Wale said his country also had no community transmission of Covid-19 and their border security had been tightened to no- exemption entry, including the once porous border with neighbouring Bougainville.
He said 70 percent of the population was under 30 years old, and many were unemployed now because tourism, fishing and agriculture had all declined.
"Have mercy, please include us. We are absolutely desperate and the New Zealand RSE programme is a life saver for the Solomon Islands.
"I would ask that the Solomon Islands is included in the first cohort of countries. We're no different from Vanuatu and Tonga."
I too am a little puzzled by today’s news from NZ has it doesn’t seem too long ago that I read the following in the local media, and I quote.
Solomon Islands Seasonal Workers in New Zealand have impressed their employer for displaying hard work and commitment during their stay in New Zealand.
Owner of JR Orchards, Mr. JR Van Vliet expressed his appreciation when Solomon Islands High Commissioner, H.E. Joy Kere visited his farm on Friday 2nd February.
High Commissioner Kere was accompanied by Sally Waswo, Development Programme Manager for Solomon Islands in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Barbara Wilkinson, a Labour Mobility Advisor.
The JR Orchards is one of the New Zealand employers that directly recruited Solomon Islands workers over the past years without problems.
This is a result of the close and amicable working relationship that JR Orchards have with its recruiting agent in the Solomon Islands.
The JR Orchards currently employs 55 Solomon Islanders. Twenty Solomon Islanders are currently working at the farm in Wairarapa, Wellington region since November 2017. A further 32 workers will arrive on February 20.
JR Orchards has preferred to retain most experience workers to ensure there is sustainability and continuity of work.
High Commissioner Kere thanked JR Orchards for the trust and confidence in recruiting Solomon Islanders as well as for the continuous support given over the past years.
Mrs. Kere knowledge the good relationship between the employer and the recruiting agent on the ground.
Meanwhile, in efforts to strengthen Solomon Islands participation in the RSE scheme and more generally, Labour Mobility, Solomon Islands acknowledge the support provided by the New Zealand government for a Labour Mobility Advisor.
Barbara Wilkinson from New Zealand was recently appointed as the Labour Mobility Advisor and she will work closely with the Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade to formulate a Labour Mobility Policy for Solomon Islands and to help strengthen the recruitment and internal processes as far as Labour Mobility is concern.
I also recall, too, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon. Helen Clark, ONZ, SSI, PC, expressing her deep concern for the numbers of young, unemployed people in the Solomon Islands, likening the situation to a long-term security concern for the Solomons.
Sources: Radio New Zealand, Solomon Star News and (SI (GCU.