Minimum wage might be reviewed, says Ministry

By Sapeer Mayron ,

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ALL OF THE $2.30: Government and stakeholders reviewing the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013, and are considering a provision to make regular reviews of minimum wage mandatory.

ALL OF THE $2.30: Government and stakeholders reviewing the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013, and are considering a provision to make regular reviews of minimum wage mandatory. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) is in the process of reviewing the Labour and Employment Relations Act (L.E.R.A.), which will include discussions on the minimum wage.

Assistant chief executive officer for the Ministry, Niuafolau Helen Uiese, said under the review, one recommendation has been to look at wages more frequently.

“There is work to include a provision in Labour and Employment Relations Act to review the minimum wage every one, two or maybe every three years,” she said.

Consultation begins next week with the Samoa National Tripartite Forum (S.N.T.F.), and will be the first step towards addressing the viability of increasing the minimum wage.

“Any decisions that are made pertaining to promoting decent work in Samoa has to be consulted with all members of the tripartite forum,” she added.

The S.N.T.F. includes: State Owned Enterprises, Government ministries, and the members of the Tripartite Forums including the International Labour Organisation, Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business Development Incorporated, Samoa Hotels Association, the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters.

On behalf of workers are the Samoa Workers Congress, the Public Service Commission, the Samoa Nurses Association, the Samoa Seafarers Association, the Samoa National Provident Fund and the Accident Compensation Corporation. 

The International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.) has a convention on minimum wage, which its country director Donglin Li said speaks for itself.

The Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention 1970 (the 131st iteration of the convention) asks ratifying countries to “establish a system of minimum wages”, which among other things, “establishes a machinery to fix and adjust minimum wages from time to time.”

While the convention is careful not to prescribe a single minimum wage to account for different countries levels of development, workers should be protected from “unduly low wages,” the convention states.

This convention has been ratified by 52 I.L.O. member states, but Samoa is not one of them.

Samoa only became a member of I.L.O. in 2008, and is still working through ratifying more than a hundred conventions, Niufolau explained. 

“We have to move phase by phase, and the first thing is to review the L.E.R.A., and then put systems in place to review the minimum wage on an annual or biannual basis.”

She said now that the fundamental conventions have been ratified, Samoa can begin addressing others like Convention 131.

Conventions cannot be ratified until Samoa is fully able to implement its requirements, Niuafolau added. 

“We go based on demand, and our capacity to enforce the convention. Any convention needs to be widely consulted on before it is ratified,” she said.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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