11 Jun 2015

Voice for worker fairness emerges for Samoa private sector

3:33 pm on 11 June 2015

The first union to represent private sector workers in Samoa is preparing to launch later this month.

Jerome Mika

Jerome Mika Photo: Twitter

Samoa First Union is being established by New Zealand organisation First Union.

The union's initial focus is not small-owner businesses, but large multinationals like the Australian-owned banks.

One of its first goals is to unionise Westpac Samoa's 75 workers as the bank undergoes transition to Bank South Pacific ownership.

The union's co-ordinator Jerome Mika says Samoans are keen to increasingly look at ways that they can prioritise issues of employment around businesses run by multi-nationals.

"We've set some immediate targets that we'll be looking at. Just trying to establish some collective agreements in the banking sector. So we'll be looking at Westpac, or the Bank of South Pacific, and also ANZ. It's going to be interesting on how we fit into the employment environment. I guess what we'll be doing is... Samoan people doing it the Samoan way."

Jerome Mika says Samoa's government has recently made some progress around workers issues while also having joined the ILO and brought in the Employment Relations Act 2013.

He says some of the issues they expect to be faced with around multinational employers relate to compliance with minimum labour 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."

The establishment of the Samoa First Union is also in partnership with Sapolu Law.

It launches in Apia on June 29.