14 Jul 2010

PNG Union has concerns over contracts for fruit pickers

11:17 am on 14 July 2010

The Trade Union Congress in Papua New Guinea is wary about the details of a deal to send seasonal employees to pick fruit in Australia.

A Memorandum of Understanding on the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme has been signed between the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers of PNG and Australia.

Details of the agreement are yet to be released but earlier in the year, PNG was allocated 650 visas for fruit picking in rural Australia as part of the scheme which was announced in 2008.

The General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, John Paska welcomes the signing of the deal but has many questions about the workers' contracts.

"From the national trade union perspective, in the context of the workers that will be covered by these arrangements, our main concern would be the context of their rights. Is the regulatory framework in place to take care of their rights if they go down to Australia."

John Paska says the scheme is likely to create employment opportunities for PNG citizens.