15 May 2009

American Samoa Governor says loss of foreign workers will hurt economy

1:33 pm on 15 May 2009

American Samoa\'s Star Kist Samoa tuna cannery is maintaining its silence over reports that at least 200 employees are being laid off.

This comes a week after fellow cannery Samoa Packing reveals it is closing its doors in September.

A Star Kist company official, Mary Seistric, has not answered enquiries about the cuts to the work force.

The territory\'s Governor, Togiola Tulafono, says the next planned 50 cent increase in

the minimum wage will affect Star Kist and the repercusssions will be felt through American Samoa.

And the Governor says while most of the cannery workers are foreigners, they make a sizeable contribution to the economy.

"That buying power for the local economy is going to go. I know some of them do claim that it doesn\'t matter, they don\'t buy cars, the big items, they don\'t buy homes - it\'s wrong. They have built homes, they have built cars and their contribution to the local economy is tremendous. Second to that is the fact that many of their children were born here. It is going to be an issue, how to deal with those children, who are US nationals."