20,000 await approval

Applicants during a consultation as they wait for approval to go to Australia under the PALM scheme. Picture: ATU RASEA

The Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations has 20,000 applications from Fijians wanting to go to work in Australia under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Agni Deo Singh revealed this at a budget consultation in Tavua last week.

“We have about 20,000 applications from our citizens, who are wishing to work in Australia,” he said. “Right now, we are processing the applications from 2021.

“We still got 2022 and 2023 and some people are complaining that they have applied and are not getting the opportunity to go.” “We have to make sure that we come in the order of the applications.”

“As they (Australia) will ask for more workers, we will make sure that we provide the workers with the condition that the minimum standards are met.”

Concerns have been raised that Fiji is losing a lot of workers who are going to work overseas under the PALM scheme.

At a budget consultation in Nadi this week, McDonald’s Fiji managing director Marc McElrath said the labour shortage was affecting every sector in the country.

“We are very worried,” he said.

“With construction, we have probably $20m worth of investments happening at the moment.

“We’ve put a stop to that because at the moment we can’t get labour.”

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