Negotiations a first for Samoa

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 10 March 2019, 12:00AM

The Samoa First Union is one step closer to sealing the deal with its first “collective agreement” with the private sector - starting with Samoa Breweries Limited.

When it happens, it will be a first for Samoa.

This was confirmed by New Zealand First Union President; Robert Reid, who is working with Samoa First Union to ensure the collective agreement is completed. 

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Mr. Reid explained the importance of having a collective agreement and its benefits.

A collective agreement is a written contract between the employer and a union that outlines many of the terms and conditions of employment for employees in a bargaining unit.  

The kinds of terms and conditions covered by a collective agreement typically include wages and benefits, as well as terms and conditions of employment that relate to e.g., job postings; obligations and responsibilities of the employer, the employee and the union; and a dispute resolution process (usually a grievance and arbitration procedure). 

“There are big companies that are already paying their employees more than the minimum wage of $2.30 and so that means we can’t rely on the minimum wage, we have to do our own negotiating to for better wages, better leave, conditions etc,. Hence the importance of this project,” he said. 

Samoa’s Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013 section 21 allows the right to bargain collectively - (1) A collective agreement relating to the following is one that may be made between 1 or more trade unions and 1 or more employers: 

(a) the wages, terms and conditions of employment; 

(b) relations between the parties; 

(c) other matters of mutual interest. 

“There has never been a collective agreement in the private sector because of setbacks when Samoa joined the International Labor Organization. 

“And with the labor laws permitting the collective agreement; however the law does not provide mechanisms to do it; however we have been in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Labor and they are proposing amendments that will assist with the collective agreements with the private sector. 

“We are excited about this venture to assure our members are given the wages they deserve. 

“We’re waiting to hear back from Samoa Breweries to give us dates that we can start negations," he said. 

Emails to Samoa Breweries for comments on the status of this matter have not been answered as of press time. 

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour has also yet to respond to emails for comments either.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 10 March 2019, 12:00AM

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