Setting up a Workers Advice Centre in Samoa


 About the project with UnionAID

The Workers Advice Centre (WAC), funded by UnionAID, is aims at supporting and empowering low-paid workers, including Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers and community members who seek advice on employment-related issues. The centre’s mission is to provide a comprehensive support system addressing various aspects of employment, particularly for those preparing to work abroad or needing guidance on their rights and entitlements.

Key functions of the WAC will include:

  1. Pre-departure Preparation for RSE Workers: The centre will offer essential guidance to RSE workers before they leave Samoa, ensuring they understand their rights, what to expect in their employment overseas, and how to address any issues that might arise.

  2. Assistance with Superannuation and Entitlements: Upon their return, the centre will help RSE workers navigate the process of claiming their superannuation and any unclaimed entitlements, ensuring they receive what they are rightfully due.

  3. Support for Seafarers: Recognising the unique challenges faced by seafarers, the WAC will provide specialised support to help them understand their contracts and the conditions of their employment abroad. This includes briefing them about their rights and the specifics of their relationship with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

By offering these services, the Workers Advice Centre aims to empower workers, ensuring they are well-informed, prepared, and supported throughout their employment journey, thereby enhancing their overall welfare and job satisfaction.

About Samoa First Union

The Samoa First Union is a Union organising workers in Samoa, particularly in the private sector, fisheries, and RSE workers travelling to New Zealand and Australia.

Samoa First Union was formed to educate and organise workers in the Private Sector in Samoa. For many years, SFU tried to organise workers in the workplace copying the model of unionisation in New Zealand and Australia. However, this strategy did not succeed in achieving the union’s goals of building significant influence and power within Samoan society.
Private Sector workers are the lowest paid in the country and often don’t earn enough to have extra money after their basic needs. They need to give their small earnings to their families, which makes them unable to afford the union fees and hesitant to join.
Local employers are poor but are not as anti-union as foreign employers. This means that recruiting union members is not the only pathway to organising  workers, but community education, engagement in union values and organising is essential.
This method has worked well with Samoa’s seasonal workers who go to Australia and New Zealand, as they are more easily organised by the unions there. This is because SFU does the education and organising in Samoa in our own language and culture, helping explain the big differences between working here and in a foreign country.

Project duration

 January 2023 to June 2024

UnionAID supports democratic, worker-led organisations that help empower working people to improve their work and livelihoods through collective action.

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