Claims: Fijians being bullied and mistreated by Tongan employers

The Fijian government is investigating after claims by Fijian nationals who worked in Tonga they were being mistreated, bullied and intimidated.

The investigation will be looking at evidence of working long hours for low wages and without extra pay.

There were also claims the Fijians were falsely promised getting certain jobs in the kingdom but that did not happen when they arrived there.

Fiji’s minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Semi Koroilavesau was quoted by Fiji Sun as saying he received “an electronic mail on Tuesday night stating the alleged current working conditions that Fijians are facing in the island kingdom”.

He said the Fiji authority will investigate “the alleged ill-treatment of Fijian workers by their local employers in Tonga”.

“My initial brief this morning is this has happened before with private recruiting agencies when the Ministry is not involved in the process,” the Minister told the paper.

50-year-old Mereseini Ledua who claimed she was offered employment in a hotel in Tonga told the Sun the employer lied to her about her job offer.

“I worked for a hotel in Nadi before I went to Tonga; the job offer was recommended by my former manager from the hotel; she had a friend in Tonga who was friends with the owner of the company that I was going to work for in Tonga.

“The only reason my manager agreed to the offer was because of the good working conditions they promised; but when I went to Tonga I found out those were all just false promises,” she said.

Ms Ledua claimed she “was promised to work in a bar or restaurant with a good salary” but when she arrived in Tonga she was told to work in a bakery and work as a cleaner.

She was paid 200 pa’anga or F$195 per week, then it increased to 300 pa’anga (F$293).

“I was promised a lot of things before I left Fiji like: I will have to work for eight hours only; I won’t work during public holidays; work eight hours a day and get paid for overtime but those were all just false promises,” she said.

The Sun said Ms Ledua claimed she and others were not allowed to go to church and were not given any holidays after they worked for about a year and a half.

“The owner of the bakery used to get angry when I go to church; they use to tell me that I was sent to Tonga to work and not to go to church; and even when we visited other Fijians they would get angry at us; they did this because they were scared we might share what we were going through to other people in the community.”

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