The Tautua Samoa Party has won widespread praises from the Samoa First Union for its promise to raise the minimum wage from $2.30 to $3 if it wins tomorrow’s General Elections.
The promise is one of the key campaign promises by the Opposition Party in its manifesto launched last month.
But the idea was first mooted by the Samoa First Union’s Coordinator, Jerome Mika, at the beginning of the year.
“Lifting the minimum wage is about fairness and equal relationships,” Mr. Mika argued. “We’re proud to be joining the growing chorus of voices who are calling on the Government to lift the minimum wage.”
According to Mr. Mika, while profits are rising for many businesses, wages aren’t.
“A handful of wealthy overseas-based companies are creaming it while Samoans see their hard work, ingenuity and perseverance not rewarded in the way it should,” he said, adding that the minimum wage ought to reflect a fair return on work.
“Samoa has so much good work to be done, roads to be paved, kids to be taught, tourists to be hosted,” he said.
“But when people are not paid enough to sustain their families and villages, or told to work more for less, then the workplace and the country isn’t running fairly.
“We can’t forget the principle of equal relationships. We cannot allow anyone to be paid less than they need to live a good life and provide for their families. People’s hard work should be recognised and rewarded.”
Yesterday, Sio Suluape Kasipale of the Union said the feedback from members of the public has been extremely positive.
And like Mr. Mika, he believes Samoans deserve better. “I can’t believe our some of people are ripping off our own people,” said Sio.
Since they started looking into the issue, Sio said they have found that some employees are being paid as little as $1.50 per hour. Many are being paid $2 per hour.
“This is shocking,” he said.
Sio maintains that raising the minimum wage is a win-win situation for Samoa.
“If they increase the minimum wage, people will have more money to spend,” he said. “It’s a win, win situation. Mark Muller, another official of the Samoa First Union, agrees.
“It’s about time to make a change,” he said. “Raising the minimum wage is about pushing everything a little bit higher.”
Samoa First Union believes there are many employees who don’t understand their rights as workers. For example, some of the workers don’t really know that the minimum wage under the labour law is $2.30.
As for the push to increase the wages to $3, Mr. Muller said it’s about fairness and ensuring Samoans are not robbed by the influx of foreign businesses setting up shop in Samoa.
“Samoa First Union is very thankful to the Tautua Samoa Party for including the increase of the minimum wage to $3 as a start for our people in Samoa.”