Agent Salong says no special treatment for absconders

By Len Garae

Vanuatu’s two final absconders in Australia’s state of Victoria, are coming home on their own free will among workers returning home tonight.

Veteran Agent John Salong of Melanesian Seasonal Employers that sent them to Australia in the first place says the two men are Batick James of Unua in Malekula and his colleague George Steven from Tongoa.

The Agent will be at the airport to welcome home his workers but adds, “There will be no special welcome for the two because they have definitely tarnished my professional reputation as well as that of my company.

“They will blend with other workers returning home so in one way this is good news since Vanuatu has no outstanding workers in Australia.”

Asked if he has any message for those going to work in Australia, he replies, “We want to grow this business to benefit everyone and not be selfish because when someone damages another’s reputation, he damages everyone’s reputation and Vanuatu’s reputation.

“He can try to rescue his personal reputation on his return but his employer’s reputation is already damaged and Vanuatu as a sending country, is rubbished when a worker absconds or drinks or fails to perform up to standard.”

He says agents are involved in export of services to Australia so the quality of the export must be very good because agents are involved in an international market place and they compete against agents from other countries.

Salong explains, “While in New Zealand, we have displaced the Maoris and all other sending countries, in Australia we are trying to displace Asian workers and their work ethics are very high.

“Know why Chinese have businesses in Vanuatu and not ni-Vanuatu, because Chinese work very hard for very little money but they do not give up.”

He warns that the international market place is highly competitive and Vanuatu workers must be able to maintain their competitive standard by adding new ingredients to the cake to keep it attractive and tasty or nobody will be interested to continue to buy it.

As to the fate of all five absconders, Salong adds, “Australia is based on Australian law while Vanuatu is based on grace and custom so Australia will say they are not allowed to return to work in Australia.

“In Vanuatu we are based on grace and custom so we can be dealt with along restorative justice while Australia is based on judiciary justice.

“We go to see a chief who restores us to our social standing because our well being is based on sense of belonging.

“In Vanuatu when we talk about the rule of law, it is tampered by the concept of custom and concept of Christianity while in Australia it is based on the rule of law.”

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