14 May 2010

Up to 800 jobs to go at American Samoa cannery

3:16 pm on 14 May 2010

The US-based Starkist Company says over the next six months up to 800 people will be laid off from its cannery in American Samoa.

The cuts mean that from a high of more than 3,000 workers in 2008 fewer than 1,200 will be left.

StarKist says it has exhausted every possibility to reduce costs to remain competitive, and increasing global pressures will require further workforce reductions.

StarKist's Vice President of Corporate Affairs/Human Resources, Melissa Murphy Brown, says those to lose their jobs will be notified in the days to come.

"What we're announcing today is a workforce reduction of 600 to 800 workers which will take us down to about 1200 workers moving forward. And we will be reaching out to our employees in the next 30 days to let them know, we imagine this will take the next six months."

Last year, 2,000 jobs were lost in Pago Pago when another cannery closed.

New figures from the US Department of Commerce show the American Samoan economy is under pressure.

The co-chair of the governor's economic advisory council of American Samoa, David Robinson, met US bureau of economic analysis officials yesterday to look at the newly collated GDP data.

He says American Samoa needs to use the information to attract investment and new enterprise as the tuna cannery industry is vulnerable and handouts from the US are likely to be cut back.

As the Federal Government has got to start paying for some the stimulus package, the bail out funds that they've made available to US companies. So we're all going to be under some considerable pressure to tighten our belts and we might not possibly be able to expect the same sort of level of aid funding that we've been used to in the past.

David Robinson says while the economic news is disappointing people will need to look towards new ways of creating jobs in the Territory though tourism, new manufacturing ventures and using the new fibre optic cable capacity.