Vila Times

RSE recruiters from NZ face threats and intimidation in Solomon Islands

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The Solomon Islands High Commissioner in New Zealand says her country can guarantee the safety of seasonal worker recruiters visiting her country.

Joy Kere was responding to reports that a recruiter was subject to intimidation and extortion attempts while in Honiara, RNZI reports.

The recruiter, who represents a New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme contractor, has been visiting Pacific countries for years.

Anthony Rarere from Pick Hawkes Bay said that lately his experience on the ground in the Solomons had been fraught with intimidation and extortion attempts.

According to Rarere, Solomon Islanders were increasingly desperate to join the scheme.

“The last time I went I got threatened by a police officer unless I employed his wife. The year before that, we were driving down a main road and someone threw a rock through our window. And when we had a thousand people show up for recruitment, and most of them couldn’t get jobs, they got quite violent and abusive.

“We were very close to coming home, after the threats came through on the texts,” he explained. “So because of that we kind of thought, well, let’s cut the numbers a bit.”

Kere said her government was taking measures to ensure recruiters are protected by the local Labour Mobility Unit.

“They can help to facilitate the meetings, they can help who to support him during this recruitment process,” she said.

“Now we hope that we will reach a stage where we don’t need extra security or extra support beyond the normal kind of working thing. I think we can guarantee the protection like we guarantee everyone else that comes to Solomon Islands.”

About 600 Solomon Islanders are employed under the RSE this year.