Wages need to match high cost of living

By Vatapuia Maiava and Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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WE NEED MORE BALANCE IN SAMOA: Jerry John Stanley, 53, from the village of Siusega.

WE NEED MORE BALANCE IN SAMOA: Jerry John Stanley, 53, from the village of Siusega.

When the expenses cost more than what you earn, you know you have a problem.

For Jerry John Stanley, from the village of Siusega, he says this is the case with most people in Samoa and it worries him.

So much so he says there is a real need to balance out the prices of goods with the wages people earn.

Aged 53, Jerry and a friend of his run a small market stall in his village where they earn what they need to survive.

The one thing he is adamant about is that life is indeed expensive.

“You ask about life? It’s very expensive,” he said. “My colleague and I run this market business over here and when sales are bad then it’s boiled breadfruit or bananas with a cup of lemon grass tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“That’s because things are unaffordable these days, it’s hard to survive on the little that people can make in this country.”

Although Jerry earns through his market stall, he took a hit at how Samoa’s minimum wage remains at an alarming $2.40, while people struggle to buy the basic necessities.

“The way I see it, the pay people are getting these days are ridiculous,” Jerry said.

“If you look at overseas countries, the goods may be expensive, but the pay is decent. Unlike here in Samoa, everything is expensive and the pay we get is very low.

“This market earns us a living but it’s still not enough to go against the cost of living nowadays.”

Moving back to Samoa in 2013, Jerry immediately began a life as a farmer to make ends meet.

Jerry John Stanley’s market stall set up in the village of Siusega
Jerry John Stanley’s market stall set up in the village of Siusega

“I was living  overseas but came back to Samoa not too long ago,” he said.

“When I returned I lived with my friend and we started our plantation. Now our plantation provides us with what we need on a day to day basis.

“My friend and I live by a saying; what we get is what we have. That’s it, we don’t wish for more or less, we just remain happy with what we have.”

He says that one difference between overseas countries and Samoa is the governments. He added that one takes better care of their people than the other.

“When I got back to Samoa in 2013, the one thing I realized is that our government is different from the government overseas,” he said.

“They have programmes overseas which benefit their people but over here we only have pensions to look forward to and even with that, we have to wait very long to be eligible.

“Our P.M. always tells us to use our heads when we’re struggling but it’s not easy. I work very hard on my plantation and I still struggle.”

Jerry says the other difference is how much you can get with your money.

“On good days I would make $30 from sales and on bad days I would make nothing at all,” he said.

“But I guess that’s how life is. Another difference is that with only $10, I could get full at McDonalds overseas but over here, you need $50.

“That is Samoa for you, everything is expensive and our pays remain the same.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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