Unemployed grateful for pre-holiday financial boost
Next week, hundreds of unemployed or under-employed workers across Samoa will be receiving a subsidy from the Government, just in time for the holiday season.
The Ministry of Finance announced this week that from Monday 14 to Wednesday 16 December, eligible workers will be getting their cheque straight into the bank, or can pick it up from a designated site.
For Fero Samoa General Manager Teleiai James Potoi, it is a welcome relief to know his staff are being supported.
The company held out on laying anyone off for as long as it could, keeping its 85-strong staff body on reduced hours since the pandemic’s effects reached Samoa’s shores.
But finally in November Teleiai had to make the difficult decision to lay off 10 per cent of his team.
“We are a 100 per cent exporter and we are very dependent on our customers overseas. When those countries went into lockdown it affected our ability to continue working,” he told the Samoa Observer on Thursday.
“When we went into a national lockdown when everything was initially locked down it impacted our ability to get our materials in. Materials take up to three months to get from China and so forth so again those countries got impacted by the COVID-19 and they locked down their operations that affected our ability to get materials.
“Unfortunately at the end of the day if there is little manufacturing requirement we had to reduce hours, go to half days instead of full days.”
Teleiai said the company did what it could to share the burden of the financial impacts across the company, and when buses were cancelled earlier in the year the company paid for taxis to ferry staff from all over the island into work.
He said next year as orders start to pick up again, Fero hopes to pick up on the big plans it had for this year, including expanding exports to the United States and beyond.
When that happens, they should be able to re employ everyone they laid off, he added.
“With the skill level required it’s essential we hold onto the skills we can get. We don’t have the luxury of a huge pool of skills. The intention is that when work picks up we will look at those employees again.”
Teleiai hopes to maintain Fero’s reputation throughout the pandemic, so that it doesn’t lose valuable business to other international competitors.
“When you’re a supplier you can’t send an email to say can you hold off because of this and this. We are supplying to a global market and there are lots of other suppliers out there.
“Us being a small country, and the Government is trying to secure foreign companies to come into the country to pick up the gap from Yazaki, it’s essential that we are able to tell the world we are an international supplier, we are a reliable supplier and we play the rules expected of a supplier – on time, in full, to international quality standards.
“Other companies who are thinking of investing in Samoa will be looking at companies like ours to see how we fare and how we are able to continue to operate.
“We really appreciate our Government has done all it can to make sure we are not impacted like everywhere else in the world,” Teleiai said.