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Opinion

LETTERS: ‘Exploitation of tourism workers’

Friday 9 September 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: ‘Exploitation of tourism workers’

Dear Editor,

I recently read an article in your newspaper about the exploitation of Cook Island workers in New Zealand. I sympathise greatly with them and know that this is something happening a lot in New Zealand especially with seasonal workers at places like Katikati which is a centre for the kiwi fruit and avocado industry. I think it is abhorrent.

However, you have a problem with exploitation much closer to home which I saw first hand while staying at Aitutaki. The staff were fantastic, really lovely people, friendly, hardworking and professional.  

My problem is that I noticed that they were always there. When we arrived in the morning they served us breakfast and when we went to bed they were still working their buts off and all for what $8 an hour. Out of this $8 they had to pay for their own uniforms.  

Not only were they working 16-hour days but also working seven days a week. If this is not exploitation what is? The worst part of it is we were paying top dollar. We paid more for accommodation, food and beverages than we would at a 5-star resort in New Zealand and yet our hospitality workers are paid an average of $24 + an hour. So who is pocketing all the money? Obviously the owner. 

We were supposed to meet the manager/owner who came to visit the island for a so-called “Cocktail Party” with his guests. However, the cocktail party consisted of a cheap punch and a few nibbles and the manager didn’t bother to mingle with any guests or introduce himself, he just sat behind the reception desk, he stayed about half an hour and then left. Maybe he didn’t want to get too close to his guests because he didn’t want to get into conversation with people like me who might challenge him about a few things.  

The island is gorgeous and on a wonderful lagoon and the staff make the best of it but their working conditions are pretty terrible. Very long hours, very low pay and poor working conditions. They often only have two people in the kitchen and two serving at the bar and restaurant which I consider extremely understaffed. The resort was full so the staff just ran constantly.

We heard there was a staffing shortage but maybe that is because many of the Cook Islander workers have gone to NZ or Australia where they can get higher wages, shorter working hours and better conditions.  

I do think that the Cook Islands should raise their minimum wage by doubling it and regulate the number of hours a worker can do in one shift and they must have days off. Also they need to provide uniforms for their workers. 

We stopped going to Fiji because of the exploitation but now may stop coming to the Cooks for the same reason. These greedy resort owners need to start sharing their profits with their hardworking staff.  

Kind regards,

Helen

(Name and address supplied)

Sinners and saints

Sounds like your letter writers yesterday have a bad case of sour grapes (Cabinet lineup and inflation).  I reckon it’s a good thing to have some sinners and saints on the same team as they will work with each other to get things done for the people. Anyway, they all won their seats with big votes so this tells me that the people actually want them there. End of story.

Concerned Citizen

(Name and address supplied)