The Government has approved 78 new licenses for recruitment of Vanuatu workers for Recognized Seasonal Employment (RSE) in New Zealand and Seasonal Workers Program (SWP) in Australia and renewed the 33 current licenses taking the total license holders to 111.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, also responsible for labour matters, Andrew Napuat, made the announcement at a press conference in the Ministry Monday.
At the Minister’s first press conference since taking office, he announced that he was extending the deadline for lodging of applications for licenses to January 15. After the deadline a committee met and decided on the applications received and now the Minister has announced the decision.
“The reason government placed a priority in this area is because RSE and SWP continue to bring in remittances that are high to the country’s economy,” he said.
“Statistics show that since RSE started in 2007/2008 with 1,000 workers last year the number rose to 4,155 workers who brought into the country over Vt1.6 billion which is circulating in the country and the country’s economy.
“As for SWP, we started sending workers around 2009/2010. In 2017, last year, the number of Vanuatu workers in Australia reached 2,150, who brought in over Vt1 billion.
“These two programmes are bringing in huge revenue to the country’s economy and we are witnessing its benefit to ni-Vanuatu workers and their families,” Minister Napuat added.
“This is the reason why we are placing a high priority on seeing how we could improve the programs by continuing to address issues and ensuring we continue to participate in these two programs.”
In his first press conference the minister said that he wanted to see people from Torba to Tafea apply for licenses for the seasonal worker programs. In that announcement he promised to remove Section 6 of the requirements for applying which he did. Section 6 of the application form said that applicants needed a letter from an overseas farmer or an approved employer in order for the Government to provide you with a license.
Starting from Tuesday, January 30, 2018, those people who applied, are requested by the Minister to go to the Labor Office, pay their fees, and get their letter of approval and license.
Minister Napuat advised the licensees that they are given six months to recruit workers, to prove to government that they can recruit. After six months those license owners who have not recruited any worker, the Department of Labor will write them a letter serving them a notice that they are given another six months to perform.
“And if after one year anyone who has not recruited any worker, the Government will have no choice but to cancel his/her license with a possibility that any future applications from them will not be considered.”
Another new stipulation from the new minister is that where in the past approved farmers have worked through the Department of Labour to conduct direct recruitment, this will no longer be allowed under the minister’s instruction to the Commissioner of Labour that approved farmers wishing to recruit workers must work together with any of the ni-Vanuatu that own licenses for recruitment.