Starkist Company recruits 500 additional Samoan workers | New

APIA (Talamua Online/Pacnews) — The director of StarKist Fish Packaging Company in American Samoa and his director of human resources lead the company’s recruitment mission for 500 workers from the neighboring independent nation of Samoa.

Samoa’s Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Leatinu’u Wayne Sooialo confirmed that he met the delegation and continued discussions on the recruitment of workers.

Leatinu’u said the company currently employs Samoan workers through direct negotiations with local agents; however, they want to involve the government.

Of the company’s 2,000 workers, 90% are from Samoa.

“They want to recruit workers on terms similar to New Zealand’s Regional Seasonal Employment Scheme and Australia’s Labor Mobility Scheme,” Leatinuu said.

The field of expertise sought by the company is not limited to the fish division alone but extends to engineers, carpentry, mechanics and plumbing.

While the Minister praised and praised the employment opportunities for Samoans, he also raised issues of concern for the company to address.

Leatinuu said that various aspects differentiate the CSR recruitment and labor mobility program from that of American Samoa.

New Zealand and Australia’s program provides housing for workers while American Samoa has a host program.

“Workers are issued a guest worker program permit and recruits stay with families as guests and work,” Leatinuu said.

“We asked them to consider building accommodation or apartments where the workers can reside rather than the host of the guesthouse,” Leatinuu said.

His concern was that anything could happen between the worker and someone in the family, especially when it came to women.

The other area of ​​concern is the delay in obtaining the work permit.

The New Zealand and Australian scheme provides a time limit for workers to work abroad, which is six months to a year before returning home.

“For American Samoa, there is no time limit and the only time Starkist society takes long breaks is April and the Christmas holidays,” Leatinuu said.

The concern is for married workers who have been away from their families for long periods of time, which has led to a number of issues under the New Zealand and Australian scheme.

“We are trying to resolve these issues and we don’t want this to happen in American Samoa if the program is given the green light,” Leatinuu said.

Leatinuu said there should be a limited time frame for such a program; otherwise, the company brings the worker’s family to American Samoa.

One of the issues raised by Leatinuu at the meeting was worker safety and security, which is part of the reason the company wants to involve the government.

Accompanying the Starkist team is the Director of the Department of Agriculture of American Samoa, the Chief Procurement Officer and Consul General of Samoa in the United States, Fata Brian Kaio.

“We have discussed conditions relating to worker safety and that includes easily finding and tracking where they come from,” Leatinuu said.

This is not a new issue as it has been discussed before but nothing concrete has come of it.

“We requested a small-scale fish factory in Asau where our employees can work for the same US rate instead of going to work in the company in American Samoa,” Leatinuu said.

Leatinuu said keeping the workforce in Samoa would also address the concern of losing skilled workers to jobs overseas.

“I think we have to take a step back and analyze the situation because they require specific skills,” he said.

The American Samoa delegation will consider all issues raised by Leatinuu and their response will be presented when the two Samoans meet for the Atoa o Samoa talks next month.

Leatinuu also advised his ministry to research and find ways to make the program work for and benefit Samoa.