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Ministry identifies RSE officer who breached Cabinet’s directive

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 17 FEBRUARY 2023: The Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour (MCIL) has submitted four recommendations to Cabinet following an internal investigation into two groups of seasonal workers that left in January 2023 to work in New Zealand despite Cabinets directive to suspend the program temporarily.

The recommendations are:

  • To investigate the RSE senior officer Gaulua Sefuluitasi’s involvement in the flight;
  • The Public Service Commission (PSC) to investigate and make a decision as required under the Public Service Act;
  • A decision against the New Zealand Leaderbrand Company that recruited the workers and continued to carry out recruitments against the Governments orders and
  • All those who left on the two flights to be penalised and will not have  a chance for future employment overseas, and also look at cancelling their visas and return them home.

In December 2022, Cabinet suspended all RSE flights for the month of January 2023 until they have discussed the Sub- Committee Review Report on the challenges faced by the Samoan RSE workers abroad.

However, on 15 January 2023, 18 young men left Samoa to start work at the Leaderbrand Company in New Zealand.

On 18 January 2023, Cabinet ordered the MCIL-RSE division for an explanation and to hand over names of the staff involved in the 15 January 2023 flight.

It was during the internal investigation of the 15 January 2023 flight that Cabinet was informed that there was another flight of 25 RSE workers for Team Work Company that left Samoa on 8 January 2023.

Who was behind arranging the flights
It was noted from the internal investigation report that one person, Gaulua Sefulutasi masterminded the two flights that left Samoa in January 2023.


RSE Senior Officer, Gaulua Sefulitasi. (photo/Facebook)

Gaulua is currently on leave in New Zealand where she forwarded instructions to two new employees Dorlyn Ao and Aneta Solomona of the RSE division on what do.

According to the two employee’s statements, their duty was to get the applicants to sign their contracts for the Leaderbrand Company on Gaulua’s instructions on the third week of December 2022.

These documents together with the applicant’s passports and applications for visas were kept in the office, and it is Gaulua’s responsibility to attend to the applicant’s visas.

When Government work resumed on 10 January 2023, Gaulua contacted Aneta and instructed her to go to the New Zealand Immigration office to pick up the passports and visas and give it to a man waiting outside of the office.

Aneta reminded Gaulua that RSE flights were suspended but Gaulua encouraged Aneta “not to worry and do not be afraid” but to leave it with her (Gaulua).

On 12 January 2023, Fuatino Savaiinaea of the RSE division received a call from someone that the workers for Leaderbrand Company were meeting under the coconut trees at Mulinu’u discussing plans and preparations for the trip over to New Zealand.

According to the report, Fuatino then informed the Chief Executive Officer and the head of the RSE Division of the meeting under the coconut trees.

The ministry then instructed Dorlyn to contact all 18 workers and reminded them of the suspension of flights and that no one was flying out.

“Dorlyn reported back to the ministry that all the team members have been contacted and told of the situation,” stated the report.

The report noted the Ministry’s disappointment over Leaderbrand’s action and it seemed the company was taking orders and instructions from Gaulua rather than the Ministry.

The flight on 8 January 2023
It was during the investigation that another witness stepped forward and explained that there was a flight on 8 January 2023, also endorsed by Gaulua.

Evidence provided included Gaulua’s text messages that instructed Ma’a Manu of the IT division on 6 January 2023, to go to the office and pick up police reports for one of the team and deliver them to the New Zealand Immigration office.

That team of 25 workers left Samoa for New Zealand on 8 January 2023.

The RSE division apologised for the lapse and informed Cabinet that there was no intention on their part to go against Cabinet’s decision.

According to the report, the CEO and RSE division were not aware of Gaulua’s dealings with Dorlyn and Aneta until later.

Cabinet has yet to act on the Ministry’s report.