New Samoa union to give voice to private sector workers
A new organisation about to launch in Samoa will be the first union to represent private sector workers in the country and has an initial focus on multi-national employers.
A new organisation about to launch in Samoa will be the first union to represent private sector workers in the country.
Samoa First Union is being established by New Zealand organisation First Union, and has an initial focus on multi-national employers.
The union's co-ordinator Jerome Mika spoke to Johnny Blades.
JEROME MIKA: We're really focussing on a number of industries, so we're looking at the flying sector, we're also looking at hospitality; the ILO identified issues around sort of RSE workers and looking at pre-departure workshops, so we're also looking to organise and recruit people from the RSE scheme; the airport and also just manufacturing sites like Vailima and all of that as well.
JOHNNY BLADES: There's been a bit of industrial unrest of recent times there hasn't there?
JM: Yeah, absolutely. So they were going through some EPC workers, Electrical Power Company, and they were going through redundancies and those are some of the things that the Samoa First Union will be able to support and help people if they were in the union around giving them some certainy and even representation for things like redundancy and around their terms and conditions. Westpac has also just been bought out by the Bank of the South Pacific, so we can support them (the workers). I am meeting with them next month, just to assure them that we can represent them and help them through that process and also that time of uncertainty
JB: What would you say are the biggest kind of issues that your union will be facing in representing people over in Samoa?
JM: Well, a lot of the companies that we've identified are actually around the multi-nationals and not at this time will we be looking at small businesses. So I think some of the issues that we'll face when we are there are probably issues around compliance and looking at minimum standards. With the reforms that the government made in 2013 they put in things like redeployment allowance, probationary period, double-time on a Sunday. So we'll be really interested to meet some workers and talk to them about their terms and conditions, and probably out of that we'll find out there are some workers who are not getting paid those minimum entitlements.
JB: I'm just wondering how it all plays in to fa'asamoa and how that may look at industrial relations?
JM: Well, Samoa's made some significant process. They are now part of the ILO. They also were able to form the Samoa Decent Work Country Programme 2013 - 2016 and they've also brought in the Employment Relations Act of 2013. So they've made some significant progress around worker's issues but also encouraging things like unions and trying to establish the Samoa Trade Union Council which they have the Samoa Workers Congress. So there's been an opportunity to be able to organise in Samoa. The response we've got so far has been really receptive from our people - not only in our labour organisations but also in businesses and even lawyers. So we're really starting to build a bit of momentum there, and we think that we'll be able to successfully establish ourselves as a trade union movement in the private sector.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: