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Tongan almond pickers send home Aussie dollars

MATANGI TONGA ONLINE - 27 Apr 2009, 22:52

Tongan almond pickers under the Pacific Seasonal Pilot Workers scheme to Australia

TONGAN seasonal workers who are picking almonds in Robinvale, Victoria are earning good money and sending remittances back to their families in Tonga, reports Vava'u People's Representative 'Etuate Lavulavu. The Pacific Seasonal Pilot Worker Scheme to Australia is a good program, "one that is not only beneficial for Tonga's economy but to the development of the livelihood of the workers' families in Tonga," said Lavulavu, on April 17, after returning from a visit to Australia.

He said the workers were getting paid at a minimum rate of around AUD$17.00 per hour and working long hours. "This is good money and they are hard workers," said 'Etuate. Many of the workers are sending money home every week. The 50 men are picking almonds in Robinvale for a Tongan company Tree Minders Pty Ltd. run by Samuela Fangaloka, who was appointed by the Australian Government as a Labour Hire Company.

Tongan seasonal workers in Robinvale, Victoria

The group of Tongan seasonal workers recruited under the Pacific Seasonal Pilot Workers scheme to Australia for seven months made up half of the initial 100 workers wanted by Australia for the pilot scheme. The workers who left Tonga in February will return home on September 10 ont the completion of their seven months visa.

The Pacific Seasonal Pilot Worker Scheme to Australia includes four countries, Tonga, Vanuatu, PNG and Kiribati.

'Etuate Lavulavu visits Robinvale almond pickers.

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