15 May 2015

American Samoa workers powerless to speak out

12:49 pm on 15 May 2015

A volunteer social worker in American Samoa says families struggling on the minimum wage are the silent majority, and are powerless to speak out.

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Photo: RNZI

There has been ongoing debate in the territory over the federally mandated minimum wage, set to rise by 50 cents an hour in September, following a three-year wage freeze.

The private sector is pushing for the freeze to continue, arguing workers would rather their wages stay the same than risk losing their jobs.

The former director of Catholic Social Services in American Samoa, Cecilia Solofa, who continues to work with families in need, says people can't speak up for fear of losing their jobs.

"Well, what can they say? What can they do? For them, they would rather have a job with something, than nothing. They have no power, no power, and as I say, these are the people with no voices."

Cecilia Solofa says families on minimum wage often can't afford things like medical bills, or healthy meals.