THE Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) has denied claims that its Labour Mobility programme has been hijacked by politicians.
Local media reports have suggested that the the programme – which helps source people for New Zealand and Australia’s seasonal work schemes has been used by politicians to make their own appointments.
But in a statement, the Ministry clarified that there are two different seasonal schemes that come under it. One is New Zealand’s Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) program and the other is the Australian Seasonal Worker Program (SWP).
It said under the New Zealand RSE, eight Solomon Islands agents had been granted license to recruit workers from Solomon Islands for New Zealand Employers wanting employees from Solomon Islands and under this scheme, Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) within the MFAET does not have any say on the recruitment selection.
“The recruitment of workers under this model is totally up to the agents, who are obliged to ensure the conditions of the signed IAU (Inter-Agency Understanding) that facilitates the RSE program in the Solomon Islands are adhered to,” it said.
As for the Australia SWP, the LMU said there are two recruitment models currently used and they are ‘Direct Recruitment’ and ‘Work Ready Pool Model.’
‘Under the Direct Recruitment model, approved employers from Australia can select their workers directly, based on their preferences and how the workers were known to them. Here, we (LMU) can only facilitate the recruitment including arrangements for police clearance, medical clearance and visa application and pre-departure training.
‘As for the Work Ready Pool Model, to help meet demands for employers who do not have any idea and connections to the Solomon Islands, we (LMU) developed and established a work ready pool where the employer can seek workers.
“To be eligible for inclusion in this recruitment model, we (LMU) developed a simple application form whereby interested candidates can use to apply. The application forms for 2016 are yet to be released as there are still workers in the pool from last year,” the LMU explained.
Further elaborating on the Work Ready Pool model, the LMU said upon request from an approved employer in Australia, it can issue profiles of workers in its pool to the employer (s) and the employers themselves will do the selection of workers based on their own criteria, including interviews.
It said as a Government Focal Point to facilitate and implement the Labour Mobility Programs, it is not a recruiting agent but only assists the agents and employers to facilitate medical clearance, police clearance and visas for the workers and importantly providing information to workers, agents and employers, government Agencies and participating stakeholders.
The LMU said it is working closely with DFAT (Australia High Commission) to develop a more robust and effective selection mechanism for the work ready pool.
The LMU said it is unaware of any Cabinet Paper whereby the Cabinet approved any Labour Mobility modality that deviates from the criteria and modalities explained in this Media Release.
It said the general public can be rest assured that it will continue to work diligently to facilitate participation by Solomon Islands workers under the SWP program in Australia, and under the RSE in New Zealand.
Source: PM Press