Samoan Workers on Verge of Winning National Raise!
In Samoa, working on the minimum wage can get you bread, but no butter.
Our partner union, the Samoa First Union, doesn’t think that sounds like a good deal. That’s why they have been campaigning over the past year for a living wage for Samoan workers.
And now, that campaign is on the verge of winning a major pay rise for thousands of Samoans.
The Senior Organiser at the Samoa First Union, Saina Tomi, said that “the minimum wage today is so low that it splits apart families, with people working countless hours to make ends meet or moving from rural Samoa into Apia for a slightly better paying job.”
Currently, the minimum wage in Samoa stands at SAT $2.30, or around AUD $1.25. This is a poverty wage, and it has not increased in over six years. Saina Tomi told us:
“We can’t do anything on poverty in Samoa if the minimum wage doesn’t move up.”
In Samoa, there is a huge extra cost on food and goods because of the islands isolation. Surrounded by oceans, Samoa must import its food, building materials, and consumer items. The most nutritious food is bought only by the resort hotels, as it is too expensive for low-paid workers to afford.
The Samoa First Union is calling for a major pay rise, following the recommendations made by economist Dr Vlassis Missos to the Samoan Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labour. Saina Tomi wants to see a minimum wage of SAT $3.70, which, she says “would lift 30% of Samoans out of poverty.”
“If we want the health to improve we have to lift to the minimum wage, and if we want better education for the young generation, we have to lift the minimum wage.”
Their campaign has been a grass-roots campaign that has created a strongly and widely felt discussion in the community. Employer groups have responded by offering a paltry rise of just thirty cents. Saina condemned this offer, saying:
“The employers just think for themselves, not the community. Thirty cents on top of the minimum wage is not a fair wage for people.”
Now, the Samoa First Union will pressure Samoan politicians to provide a wage rise by the beginning of next year that would help Samoan workers to buy healthy and nutritious food, access medicines and quality healthcare, and to give their children the best education they can.
Organising Against Poverty
The Samoa First Union is a small union with big goals. You can show solidarity with Samoan workers in their fight to win a living wage by joining Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA!