Negotiations over wages grievances

The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.), Papali’i Willie Nansen, is hopeful negotiations with the Samoa Seafarers Union (S.S.U.) over pay grievances can be resolved in good faith.

Papali’i made the point in a statement issued by S.S.C. in response to concerns raised in a story published by the Sunday Samoan, which revealed a threat by seafarers employed by S.S.C. in Samoa to go on strike. 

The threat has reached Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who said he has referred the matter back to the Board to deal with. 

Yesterday, Papali’i said the matter calls for a thorough review of the issues raised.

“The Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.) is continuing negotiations with the Samoa Seafarers Union (S.S.U.) pertaining to their request for a review of wages and benefits for Seafarers employed by S.S.C. vessels servicing our Domestic and Inter-Island routes,” Papali’i said.

“The review outcome should reach an agreement based on good faith and transparency from all parties."

“To that extent, S.S.C. will be engaging the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, (M.C.I.L.) the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Works, Infrastructure and Transport, (M.W.T.I.) for their inputs.”

The Samoa Shipping Corporation Seafarers Association, under the umbrella of the Samoa First Union, will also be involved in the process.

“We feel that in the best interest for all parties involved a thorough review is warranted,” said Papali’i.

“And ultimately, we will submit our findings and recommendations to the Salary Tribunal Board for review and report back to Cabinet for approval.”

Papali’i also clarified that the issues in question are not related to Samoan seafarers employed by international companies. They only involve seafarers employed by S.S.C. to service domestic and Inter-Island routes.

Last week, a post on the official Facebook page of the Samoa Seafarers and Maritime Union revealed that the sailors threatened to go on strike.

The statement said the S.S.U. members met with Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.) Minister Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, the S.S.C. Board, the C.E.O. and the management. 

“The S.S.U. in response through the president, vice-president and legal counsel stressed that strike by S.S.U. members is the very last option and it is not encouraged for obvious reasons,” the statement reads. 

“The S.S.U. is a new entity and it has its constitution to adhere to, with emphasis to find employment opportunities for its members and it is working alongside S.S.S. (Samoa Shipping Services) for those reasons. However, S.S.U. is mandated also to assist its members embroiled in industrial grievances.”

The S.S.U. also sought clarification from the S.S.C. on whether their current salary scale was in line with the Remuneration Tribunal's scale. 

“The S.S.U. also stressed the effective implementation of Maritime Labour Convention that Samoa ratified in 2013 plus the LERA law. The M.L.C. in particular is for seafarers worldwide and Samoa must implement in order to meet its international obligations and it is an opportunity for Samoa – through S.S.C. – to show best accepted practice on international labour standards by adopting and adapting the same.” 

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