7 Jul 2004

Tuvaluans stuck on Nauru look to their own Government for help

4:11 pm on 7 July 2004

Tuvaluan workers stranded without pay in Nauru are turning to their own cash-strapped government for help.

Tuvalu's secretary for foreign affairs and labour, Tine Leulu says

repatriated workers and those remaining on Nauru have asked the Government to pay them out.

Mr Leulu says it has told workers who were hired by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation that it can't afford to assist.

"This is becoming a national problem as well because Tuvaluan Nauru workers are coming to the Government to see if they can be paid and the government will claim it later from the NPC. Of course we have also our financial constraints."

Mr Leulu says the Government has already repatriated 200 Tuvaluans at a cost of around 140 thousand US dollars, and a further 100 remain on the island.

He says there are no immediate plans to repatriate them as the Government believes they will eventually be paid.

Meanwhle the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Saufatu Sopo'aga, has raised the matter with the chairwoman of the Pacific Islands Forum, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.