Go back to work, P.M. tells strikers

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“Go back to work” Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana speaking to YEA members Monday.

“Go back to work” Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana speaking to YEA members Monday.

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines. 


First Published: 15 January 1993

Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana has in no denounced the Yazaki Employees Association strike as “an outside phenomenon” that has left many people in countries like New Zealand poor and without jobs.

He addressed the YEA marchers outside Parliament on Wednesday morning and urged them to return to work.

“I am saddened by this action you have taken,” said the Prime Minister.

He told the strikers that this was not the way to solve their grievances.

“If you have any grievances, take them to the Labour department, they handle all those kinds of problems,” he said.

He told the workers that they were bringing in things from outside refering to the strike action.

“If you are Samoans and you love your country, return to work”, he urged.

In a clear refrence to the PSA support for the YEA, the Prime Minister said that the people behind the push for the strike “had no love”. “For your own good, go back to work, “he said.

He told the strikers that Parliament could not help their plight. He said that he had been to Yazaki at Vaitele before Christmas and spoke to the workers.

“Why didn’t you bring this up with me then?” he asked.

Earlier the Police had moved the marchers off Parliament grounds but the Prime Minister ordered them back so he could speak to the marchers. At the end of his speech the Prime Minister told the strikers that if there was anyone amongst them related to him or from his village “then what you are doing is wrong”.

The marchers then went back to PSA house. 

Yesterday Yazaki management delivered several letters to the Samoa Observer, one of which is published in full in this issue. (See page four)

One of those letters is a letter to Yazaki Samoa employees Association committee.

In that letter YSEA dissociates itself from the claims made by YEA published in last Wednesday’s Samoa Observer issue. 

“This committee believes that it was democratically elected by the whole of the workforce to represent the workforce and has done so responsibly,” said the letter.

The letter goes on to say that YSEA will not allow itself to be replaced by the YEA “based upon the resolutions of a gathering of only a small proportion of the total workforce.”

YSEA also gives a pledge to work enthusiastically with management, “in the interests of the workforce and in the furthering of the industrial aims of Samoa”.

YEA for its part will not accept some of the claims made by Yazaki management of some of the “benefits” in force for the Yazaki workers.

In a written statement YEA president Eseta Togo says that many of the claims by management are false.

*No free meals are on offer as some of their wages (overtime) are being taken off for the meals.  

*We do not travel free on the buses, money is being taken from our overtime for this. 

*Our insurance comes out of our pays.

*We only get panadols from the doctor.

The statement goes on to give some of the practices they are not in agreement with at work.

They cannot talk to anyone during working hours and workers are given only 3 minutes to go to the toilet.

Employers, they claim, can only go to the toilets three times a day.

Peter Ray told the Samoa Observer yesterday that workers out on strike if they come back will still get a chance to have their jobs back.

“We will have to look at the time they have spent away from work of course,” he said.

Late yesterday afternoon former YEA president Saafia Leota said that their numbers were dwindling and that many have gone back to work.

She claimed “about 700” had been there on the Wednesday but by yesterday afternoon, “we have about three hundred, if that”.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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