Woman disputes her “termination” letter

By Aruna Lolani ,

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WRONG TERMINOLOGY BUT CORRECT DECISION: Assistant Commissioner of Samoa Prisons and Correction Services, Ulugia Sauafea Aumua, said the use of termination is unfortunate by they stand by their decision to let her go.

WRONG TERMINOLOGY BUT CORRECT DECISION: Assistant Commissioner of Samoa Prisons and Correction Services, Ulugia Sauafea Aumua, said the use of termination is unfortunate by they stand by their decision to let her go. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

A former employee of Samoa Prisons and Correction Services has expressed disgust at the way her services were “terminated” when she reached the retirement age of 55.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said after 11 years of service, she was sad to have been told in a letter she was being terminated – when in fact she has reached the retirement age.

The letter sighted by the Sunday Samoan stated the woman has been terminated because she had reached the retiring age and she hadn’t applied to extend her services.

“I got my termination letter on Thursday, the 23rd of March so after my shift on Friday, my service to S.P.C.S. came to an end and I came home on Saturday." 

“But before all that, I called the secretary if I can get an interview with the Commissioner to discuss this."

“I know it’s in the letter but it doesn’t make sense." 

“So I went there and asked him about why I was terminated because if someone is terminated, it just means that they are fired because they have done something that’s extremely wrong."

“But he said that the letter means my service has come to an end because I have reached the retiring age. This is how they explained the termination letter."

“I don’t know about other people but to me, once you receive a termination letter, your services have been terminated and that’s not a good sign because you have done something wrong." 

“I know there’s something fishy going on here. I even asked him if I could go work on my extension application rightaway just so I can still keep my job but they said my time was up and there’s no more chance."

“The sad thing is, they did not tell me anything. They did not explain anything to me." 

“I just want to know if I have done something wrong for them to terminate my services like this. They at least owe me an explanation but not excusing it on my retirement."

“But instead they did my termination letter based on my age." 

“I even asked the officer who wrote my termination letter but she didn’t even stand up for me."

“I still haven’t received my welfare fund but the welfare fund should have come together with the termination letter. Also there’s another employee there that is still working there but he has never re-applied."

“This is corruption.”

When the Sunday Samoan contacted the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour for a comment, an official said there is no policy, which requires a worker’s services to be terminated upon reaching the retirement age.

The Assistant Commissioner of Samoa Prisons and Correction Services, Ulugia Sauafea Aumua said the use of the word terminated was unfortunate.

“It’s unfortunate that the terminology ‘termination’ is incorrect and that is our fault because it’s more of a retirement letter,” he said.

“It should’ve been a retirement letter. That would’ve been better but it’s our fault and we take that back. We didn’t terminate her because of the retiring age."

“For the former employee’s case, this is the second time for her to extend her services but the basic issue here is that she did not meet the requirements." 

“It would’ve been good if she re-applied when it was like one month away from her birthday but she didn’t do it."

“To be frank, that’s the case. She wasn’t aware of the retiring age but she has been working here for a long time."

“It’s not our responsibility to monitor your retirement age. Every staff members know that the retirement age is 55 years and that’s our policy."

“Speaking generally about this process, so there’s an officer here that’s also due with his services in three months but he’s met the requirements." 

“That’s exactly the same process we have followed on this former employee’s case. For one reason, she has breached the due time for applications and secondly, is a question whether the ministry recommends her to continue or not. So those two factors came into play."

“You need to have 2 records certificates and a report from the Output Manager whether he or she should be recommended or not, so we give in our recommendations to the Commissioner and the final decision is made by the Commissioner."

“So it doesn’t work automatically, it’s based on how you do your work and the skills that you have."

 “We had our meeting early this year together with Human Resource where they talked to us about work-related matters to the staff and how they can be improved, even entitlements, sick leaves and retirement age. So for her to say that she didn’t know, that’s not a valid excuse to use.”

When Ulugia was asked about her welfare funds, he said: “I still need to follow up on that but I know she is entitled to one, because her services has come to an end.”

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