7 Sep 2015

Close watch needed for Cooks employers

12:09 pm on 7 September 2015

The Cook Islands' principal immigration officer says poor employers need to be better monitored as foreign workers stream into the country.

The principal immigration officer of the Cook Islands Kairangi Samuela.Appointed in march 2015.

The principal immigration officer of the Cook Islands Kairangi Samuela. Photo: Cook Islands Government

In the past six months, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has received two official complaints from foreign employees.

Reports of abuse towards foreign staff have been reported for over a decade including claims people were forced to surrender their passports, work 14 hour days, or risk future employment if they returned to their home countries.

The Principal immigration officer, Kairangi Samuela, says the number of workers coming in to the Cook Islands has almost tripled over the past ten years and closer observation of workplaces will help.

"We could strengthen our own mechanisms for monitoring, I think that's something we could do to improve it. Basically check up on the foreign workers who come in, do a private interview and see how things are going."

Kairangi Samuela says an internal database of poor employers is already used to safeguard incoming workers.