2 Apr 2010

Disaster relief work poaching American Samoa fish cleaners

5:31 pm on 2 April 2010

American Samoa's sole tuna canning operation is competing for staff with a programme for diaster recovery work.

The National Emergency Grant programme or NEG hires cannery workers who lost their jobs when Samoa Packing's Chicken of the Sea plant closed last September and others now without work because of the earthquake and tsunami that hit at the same time.

Starkist Samoa's general manager says the cannery has the capability of processing close to 500 tonnes of fish a day but at the moment, is only able to produce three quarters of that because it doesn't have enough fish cleaners.

Our correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller, says the NEG has hired more than 2,000 workers since late last year to assist government agencies with recovery efforts.

"The fish cleaners with the minimum wages they make about $4 an hour but with this National Emergency Grant Programme those employees are getting like $7.50 an hour so a lot of people have opted to work for this programme."

Monica Miller says Star Kist Samoa employs more than 1800 people.