5 Sep 2008

Kiribati Government to try and ensure better treatment of seasonal workers in New Zealand

5:52 pm on 5 September 2008

Kiribati's labour department says it wants to ensure that the next group of its workers coming to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme are well treated.

Forty of the 70 seasonal workers have returned home, while New Zealand Immigration officials have confirmed a group of around 13 have disappeared somewhere in the country.

The workers say they have been given little work and pay, and lived in overcrowded housing conditions.

The department's secretary, Taakei Taoaba, says most of the 40 workers that have returned home are struggling.

"They do not have any employment here in Kiribati. One of the issues that we are looking at is how they are going to repay the money they borrowed from government to fund their trip to New Zealand, the airfare and other expenses. There've been discussions between our president and the New Zealand prime minister during the forum meeting also looking at these issues. The New Zealand government will get back to us."

Taakei Taoaba says they will send more workers to New Zealand in November and are trying to work out how to prevent such incidents in future.