Fears for our expat workers

Tuesday July 28, 2020 Written by Published in Economy
Majority of expat workers are employed in the tourism hospitality industry. 19061319 Majority of expat workers are employed in the tourism hospitality industry. 19061319

With the wage subsidy ending and no repatriation flights, overseas nationals don’t know what their future holds. 

There are worries about what happens to workers if the borders do not open soon, says the Tourism Industry Council.

For expatriate workers, concerns are whether they will continue to be included in the next wage subsidy package, to be advised in September. Even with the subsidy, there’s already been a trickle of redundancies – and they worry it will grow to a flood.

At the weekend, Pacific Resort Hotel Group announced it had laid off staff in its head office, and was likely to have to cut more jobs still.

Fijian Association vice-president Savenaca Tukitoba said there were great concerns in the community. “On our part, as migrant workers, this Covid-19 time should be a preparation and learning curve for everyone,” he said.

“We have been saying from the beginning to start preparing for the worse, and for us it's going to be September.”

He believed the government would make the most reasonable and common-sense decision, come September, for the benefit of everyone.

“If the best solution for everyone is for us migrant workers to be repatriated back home, then at least we are going back home.”

The first two subsidy packages included expatriate workers, and they were also allowed out of their contracts.

This morning, the tourism industry as a whole will discuss its preparedness to reopen the border at an industry meeting at the National Auditorium.

Tourism Industry Council acting president Liana Scott said there was a great deal of concern about what happened if borders didn’t open soon, and how the wage subsidy was affected.

She warned, any thought that opening borders with New Zealand would result in a flood of visitors and a speedy return to normality was extraordinarily misplaced.

Government should seriously consider extending the wage subsidy past September, as companies needed to retain staff if they were to successfully emerge from hibernation.

“With little or no revenue and the end of the wage subsidy beyond September will mean employers will need to be giving notice before September ends to coincide with that withdrawal.”

She said the difficulties that this situation creates would be vast – repatriation would come at a huge cost. 

“Repatriation is fraught with its own complications, because if the borders remain closed or the employee’s country of origin unreachable, what happens to these people? 

“One month’s unemployment benefit would hardly suffice to keep these people with a decent living standard.”


  • Comment Link Former Contract Worker Wednesday, 29 July 2020 11:14 posted by Former Contract Worker

    Its simple! All that needs to be done is have the CI Government contact the Fijian Government and see what can be done to repatriate their nationals back home. There is a large number of Fijian Nationals working in the Cook Islands and this number would even constitute sending a Fiji Airways to the Cook Islands to bring Fijians back to Fiji. If memory serves their should be a little over 500 Fijian Nationals or more in the Cook Islands. If money comes into play, then Resorts and Employers must also look at contributing something as well because it is standard in most Expat contracts and i believe an Immigration requirement that Resorts must repatriate foreign workers back to their country of Origin at completion or termination of their employment contracts. What should NOT happen is this story been highlighted in the Media and Industry and Employers comment, but nothing is done and the foreign workers are left to fend and figure out where their next meal will come from. Kia Orana E Kia Manuia

  • Comment Link If we go back home,we should at least have our whole  super back..I mean theres anything or work back home. Wednesday, 29 July 2020 07:21 posted by If we go back home,we should at least have our whole super back..I mean theres anything or work back home.


  • Comment Link Akisi Musselle Tuesday, 28 July 2020 20:29 posted by Akisi Musselle

    Wondering if Immigration can waiver that $500 Employers pay for contract workers annually if wage subsidy is not extended after September? Under the circumstances, are Employers obligated to pay staff annual leave?

  • Comment Link Diana Hegan Tuesday, 28 July 2020 20:10 posted by Diana Hegan

    Arohamai ! These people will be at RISK of becoming HOMELESS !!! NZ homeless, rough sleepers and Vulnerable whanau were offered accommodation, clothes and kai over this challenging time. Maybe locals could offer to support these people, in return they can do meritorious deeds such as doing odd jobs for Kuia kaumatua , supporting their host whanau with daily tasks , cooking, gardening, child minding, redecorating, cooking, community service Marae, schools and Church’s DIY. Etc They are all highly skilled professionals . In this way they will be able to show their gratitude for this act of kindness. Just a thought. Otherwise they are screwed.

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