198 off to Land Down Under

Joseva Vuetiviwa Wainiqolo with Employment Minister Parveen Kumar at the Kshatriya Hall in Suva yesterday. Picture: MERI RADINIBARAVI

Carrier driver Rusiate Max Cokanasiga was counting his lucky stars after being selected to work in the meat industry in Australia under the Pacific Australian Labor Mobility Scheme (PALMS) program.

The 42-year-old was one of 198 people who received their certificate at the Kshatriya Hall in Suva yesterday.

“A friend told me about this scheme, so I took the initiative to fill the form and lodge my application,” Mr Cokanasiga said.

He said while being separated from his wife and children for four years would be tough, he was still thankful for the opportunity to work overseas and provide for his family.

Employment minister Parveen Kumar reminded the departing workers to abide by their contract agreements and keep in mind the goals they had set from the very beginning.

“I was in Labasa yesterday and I was walking through the main street of Labasa when I met a lady complaining to me about her husband having an affair with someone else in Australia,” Mr Kumar said.

“Same time I called my director in Labasa and asked him to talk to this lady and find out who that man is and we’ll make sure that he catches the first flight back home.”

Joseva Vuetiviwa Wainiqolo, a successful applicant, was working at DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji when he was informed of the scheme by a friend.

“I am thankful to the Government and National Employment Centre (NEC) for selecting me to be part of this scheme and also to the hotel industry in Fiji for the skills that you have given me which I now will upgrade in Australia,” Mr Wainiqolo said.

He will be employed at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa in Western Australia.

The 198 workers have found employment under eight approved employers in Australia from the agriculture industry, hospitality industry and meat industry, among others.

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