Lively discussion on employment rights

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Key stakeholders gather to discuss the employment rights of domestic workers.

Key stakeholders gather to discuss the employment rights of domestic workers.

(S.V.S.G.) Awareness of employment rights of domestic workers and the legal responsibilities of the employers has now reached the workplace. 

The General Manager of the Accident Compensation Corporation and staff welcomed the Nofotane Workplace Awareness Team into their office this week to kick start the workplace awareness consultations. 

This is all part of Phase II- Awareness Raising, for the Gender Equality Project currently implemented by Samoa Victim Support Group with funding support from UN Women Fund for Gender Equality.

The objective of the workplace awareness consultation is to increase employers of domestic workers understanding, and acceptance, of their legal responsibilities when employing women as domestic workers. 

And the target audience is the workforce, the employers of domestic workers hired to perform domestic duties such as caregiving, babysitting while they are at work themselves.

The Awareness Team included the Chair of the Project Advisory Committee, Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molioo, Cedrela Tamati of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Labour, SVSG staff and volunteers. 

The Labour Division of the MCIL presented on the Labour & Employment Relations Regulation 2016 which gives legal protection for domestic workers, through employment contracts, entitlements such as leave, NPF contributions and ACC levies, something the Nofotane Project is advocating for. 

There are no such protections under the Labour & Employment Relations Act 2013 as “the Act does not apply to service rendered to a matai under the aiga system.” 

A nofotane domestic worker’s service falls under this category. Despite the consultation scheduled for an hour, the increased interest from the ACC staff on the Nofotane Project and the domestic worker component, lead to the discussions going beyond the allocated time. 

It was information empowerment for the staff as they commented and acknowledged the vision behind the Project. According to the General Manager, Muliagatele Makelita Matafeo, “E lua a mea taua ia ua ausia e le To’omaga i lenei Polokalame;

1. o le fa’atauaina lea o le leo o le tina nofotane,

2. o le taui ua ave i le tagata i lana tautua i le matai.”  Says Muliagatele, “there are two significant things SVSG has achieved through this programme;

1. is valuing a nofotane’s voice; and

2. payment to a person for service rendered to a matai.” Questions raised included: Why focus on the nofotane, what about the men? Will the Employment Contract be in conflict with the Fa’aSamoa with regards to the tautua?

How will SVSG address the social challenges that comes with the economic empowerment of women?  The discussions and the sharing of views on these issues formed part of the awareness consultation. 

The session with the ACC proved to be a very constructive engagement, highlighted by the General Manager pledging ACC’s support through making available 2 of the staff from their Community Awareness Team, to be part of The Nofotane Workplace Awareness Team.

SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges with appreciation the contribution from the Accident Compensation Corporation staff to the Nofotane Project.  “Thank you so much Muliagatele and the staff for your honest opinions, and your valuable contribution to the Project. 

As employers of domestic workers and as leaders in your respective villages, you have taken your roles to heart, and that is your contribution to the achievement of the project goal”. 

To improve access of nofotane women in Samoa to sustainable employment and increased participation in domestic and community matters.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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