In response to the Samoa First Union

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Orlando Huaman*

This piece is in reference to “About those “lazy” Samoan workers” by the Samoa First Union. Laziness is a habit inherent in any human being. And it is a bad habit. Period.

 Not doing anything to change a bad habit is your choice. Therefore, a lazy person can become a non-lazy person if he/she chooses to do so. Better yet, if he/she has the help of a well-trained supervisor hired by a well-trained C.E.O./A.C.E.O., the results are very positive.

 A country is lazy when people in jobs of responsibilities are lazy. Period.

Laziness can lead to poverty. That is why the country is poor because the above mentioned people, plus the employers do not know how to hire supervisors who, by example, can show the working force  “how not to be lazy.”

The S.F.U. is right in saying why those air conditioned C.E.Os/A.C.E.Os did not seek the opinion of the insulted party? You know why? Because they will say besides being “underpaid” the inability of the supervisors to manage by objectives. Perhaps the supervisors are poorly paid too.

We have to recognize that in any organization, big and small, there are lazy people. It is up to the supervisor to spot them and get rid of them. To keep them, it is and act of laziness, and create a toxic culture. 

This is called “people differentiation”. In any organization it may amount to about ten percent. In those ten percent are included the C.E.O.s and A.C.E.Os those who do not perform beyond their everyday “duties and responsibilities”. 

Lack of innovation, creativity and imagination is a sign of laziness on the part of those C.E.Os/A.C.E.Os and employers. Why blame the poorly paid workers when they themselves are lazy.

For the involved C.E.Os/A.C.E.Os and employers to say that the “solution” to the lazy workers is to hire foreigners, is a blatant insult to the intelligence of those affected. 

They should apologize for their ignorance and lack of patriotism. It is like importing taro from Tonga for our food. Tell us what assurance do they have that a foreign worker is better than a local one and if he will make the move knowing of the poor wages paid to the locals?

 Wouldn’t be fair for the employees to say: why don’t we hire C.E.Os/A.C.E.Os from overseas, since the ones now do not know how to manage and treat the great majority of the poorly paid people. 

Such as to look for ways and means to make the poor workers to resemble human beings with theirs basic necessities to start. 

Charity begins at home! The absence of laziness in a work force is a direct result of the quality of the supervisors. To prove my point. Answer this question.  Do we have lazy people in the army?  The Master Sargent would be delighted  to “cure” your laziness.

Now, about if the Samoans are lazy.

 My opinion regarding the above is factual, that is my personal experience working with Samoans here and abroad. As well as working with and for with people from other nationalities.

I have read several opinions regarding the above title from the PM down to business persons and the populace. The irony of all this is those so called “lazy” do not read what is being published (about them) in the Samoa Observer.

The reason is simple: they (or most of them) can’t afford to “waste” the cost of the newspaper, at least on a daily basis. Therefore, they do not know what the “readers” think about them. It is a condemnation in absentia. (By the same token those unemployed persons who can’t afford to buy the S.O. bluntly ignore what is available in the job market that could fit their trade and pursue it accordingly) . The S.O. is doing a great job by giving a voice to the poor who by telling their economic situation might catch the eye of a potential employer and/or a good Samaritan. 

 

WHO IS A LAZY PERSON?

My dictionary defines lazy as “a person showing or characterized  by a lack of effort or care” This all encompassing definition , definitely ,covers the hundred (in Samoa)  of people  that work for the government ,as well as, in the private industry. People who do not work efficiently least effectively. 

Therefore, in a sense do not care. The key word here is … (lack of) CARE. Then, by this definition there is a lot of “lazy” people throughout Samoa whether they are employed or not or as our P.M. said those “loafing” around Beach Rd. and elsewhere (sitting at their desk pretending to work, showing their lack of effort) Remember activity does not mean efficiency. In fact 80% of the population is in the wrong job. That is. In the best case, they can be efficient but not effective. i.e. low performance.

The antonym of lazy is a person who is industrious, energetic, diligent, progressive looking. 

How many of these working people fit that definition in the government and in the private industry? Not too many indeed! 

If we go by that wise rule of thumb; let us enumerate the accomplishments of all the C.E.Os and A.C.E.Os during the past years. If any let us expound them.  Does that mean that the whole country will awake from lethargy and work at a different pace to emulate the industrialized countries? 

No way José! Our whole attitude (toward work) must change and FAST. Or the W.T.O. will treat and maltreat us unmercifully.. Our import goes up, while our export goes down. Can we reverse that trend?

 

ARE YOU LAZY?

Our common perception of a lazy person  are directed toward those we encounter going up and down Beach Rd. or seating on benches  “loafing” All able body men and women .Those habitually  depending on remittance are definitely, categorized as lazy, since they could be doing something better  for themselves. Cultivate the land, raise pigs or chicken, what is that? Western Union to the rescue! The fact that you do not work does not mean that you are lazy. 

Laziness does not relate to intelligence. There are intelligent people that are lazy. Does a truly lazy person does not love to do anything? In order for me not to be lazy is to follow my motto: “I must do the most productive thing possible every given moment.” 

Coming back to the title of this opinion.

I have been “lucky” enough to have worked in 10 countries. Remember the harder you work the luckier you get. And I have worked with Samoans in three of them. About stealing .  The “incentive” to steal here in Samoa is attributed to the church “obligations” The bible says: it is better to give than to receive. I firmly believe in that policy. The problem is what, when, how much, and to whom. And here is the crux of the matter. Do the church goers Samoans compete against each other to give to the pastor (remember God does not need money, He has everything) of course they do. Is that healthy? Definitely not. 

Does it hurt the home budget, of course it does. With that meager budget it is impossible to save. That is, when the fa’alavelave comes around ,the banks come to the rescue and the “hard working” relatives in N.Z. and elsewhere must chip in, whether they like it or not. Bear in mind that tradition is the democracy of the dead, (G.K.Chesterton) and pride is a ridiculous asset. (Letter to a Christian Nation) Pastors are in a league all by themselves. To them their motto is: “It is better to receive than to give” They get free house, Hilux, wardrobe, king size TV, expensive iPhone, free fish, taro, pocket money for their vacation. All for a: “God bless you my brother/sister” No wonder the bible in St John says: “The poor always ye have with you”

Do not misunderstand me. I am not against pastors (for my family has a monsignor among our relatives) It is the way they go about “spreading the Word” making the poor poorer and scarier.

Can you imagine if Bill Gates were supposed to give ten percent of his income!!! Remember the rich are rich because they know who, when and for what to give. I don’t believe the assertion by the pastors that they don’t force to give. Fear and guilt are tools of the trade by the Christian church. The gift of gab pays handsomely being a pastor, if not watch TV, thousands of a captive audience listening attentively to what they already know since childhood. And they don’t leave that auditorium without “donating” some good dollars.

Could anybody answer the question: Why people in Samoa go to church? Do they have to? Are they forced to? For some or I would say the majority of the churchgoers are finding out (just lately) that the price to pay for their faith –faith takes over when reason fails--is getting to a point plainly prohibitive. Is God keeping track of those that are slipping church? Or those that are too stingy to turn over their meager earnings to the pastors?

What would the worst it can happen to those that don’t show up in church as expected? Would heaven be closed to them and hell would welcome them? May be they can meet their lawyers there, and TNTC abusing pastors?

If Samoa could have recreation parks strategically positioned, where the kids could  have a terrific time, enjoy the fresh air, jump in a public swimming pool, grab all the tasty  junk food, meet  their school mates, take their loved pets, dance and sing on top of that.

Would that be a choice, once in a while, to skip church and have a hell of a ball there? To my understanding it would be healthier, cheaper and still enjoy God’s creation of Nature. Besides I never heard of a pastor to be a role model for the Samoan youth, Have you? Or would we choose the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St Augustine who concluded that heretics should be tortured, or Thomas Aquinas, that the heretics should be killed outright. Not to leave behind Martin Luther and John Calvin who advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews, and witches? Nice example of Christian love!

 

ARE THE SAMOANS LAZY?

Well yes and no. I would say more yeses than nos. The facts speak for themselves. When I worked in Pago for the federal government (meat inspector they used to call me) I had two helpers from here. 

I helped them rather the other way around. Easy job, but they made it easier still. One day while I was busy or rather correcting their work one of them took advantage of my brief absence, he opened my briefcase and wrote himself a check for  USD 212.00 .

The bank called me when they where dubious about my signature. Needless to say he was sacked right there and then. His excuse: he needed money to send to his church and a faalavelave in one of the villages here. The other was just as bad. In such a  way that my boss, every time that came to Pago, did not want to see their faces around.

On the other hand, while inspecting a bacon plant in Montana, I spotted a Samoan man. Excellent worker-his supervisor’s opinion. But they dismissed him because he showed up two times late for work. 

Reason: he was holding two jobs. But two months later he was rehired. He was good worker but this time he dropped one job. He was made assistant foreman. Fatu was his name. And he was the only Samoan in a city ten times the size of Apia. He went wild when I told him my wife was from his village.

Someone mentioned bringing Philippines here. Well. When in Guam I met an American who bought a beef jerky plant(under my inspection) and got rid of 12 women when he found out that they were robbing him blindly.

 

 

Mexicans are hard workers. Even work harder than Americans in the abattoir I worked alongside with them. Cubans and Jamaicans are much disciplined, when I worked at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Peruvians( I should know better)and Venezuelan are just about the same. They work harder when the boss is around and take it easy  when he is not around. Italians (when I worked two month a year at Naples) are good workers but also big talkers, French Moroccans, very serious workers, they didn’t pay attention to me while I was there ( two month every year) but the job was done. 

   One thing amazes me. When Samoans work they laugh a lot and kid around just as easy. Samoans in general are very friendly (men and women), they might not be the best workers in the work but depending  the skill of the supervisors they come as expected. Not the Americans, serious, focused, and little chatting. I worked right alongside them for 17 years and I learned a lot from them. Practically, everything I know I picked up from them. As a labor and at the managerial level when I worked abroad..

   In Toto, My work experience working for and with people from other countries could be summarized by the Spanish proverb.” the eye of the master fattens the horse” Translated means. Keep a sharp eye on anybody who works for you (family included) for the opportunity favors the thief.

 

WHY PEOPLE STEAL?

   Worker steals because of the opportunity and the laxity in supervision. That makes them corrupt. Same logic applies from higher ups and for the regular Joe. Managers should blame themselves. Or it could be that they are not paid what they think there are worth. Stealing is a way to get even. so is absenteeism, and lying, etc. I just finished reading  about the founders of IBM. They chose the best only and paid them better than the competition. Not a paper clip was missing; the union organizers would not even dare to approach them. Nine generations of Rostchilds attributed their prominence in banking thanks to the integrity of their member’s family or not. Remember people make or break any organization, if not soon later The fate of many dictators speak for themselves. People power, you know.

   Company operators in Samoa should blame themselves for workers dishonesty. How to prevent: Hire the best, for that purpose take your time in hiring, 3 interviews should be standard not one. Hire slow , fire fast. 

FSU says “the purpose of a company primarily is to make a profit…” now hold your horses people at the FSU. Repeat after me: According to Dr. Samuelson Nobel Prize in Economics : “The primary purpose of a company is to nurture the customer…”- Customer is king. Forget about the profits, profits will come later if you treat your customer right.

   It is ironic all those people who steal (corrupts included) go to church.- is it the pastor’s job to guide his flock through an honest life,  besides collecting the poor’s hard earned money and building churches upon churches to collect more poor’s money, forever?   And yet, we all want to go to heaven, what hypocrisy! Everybody steal, given the opportunity from presidents, dictators, big honchos down to you and me. Some might think, I don’t (until proven guilty) that goes for you and me again. If we would chop the hand of all who steal here the excuse for not cultivating the land will be valid. Have a peaceful life.

   To be lazy or not to be lazy, that is your choice!

 

*Orlando Huaman is a freelance writer from Malololelei.



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