Fish shortage prompts StarKist to shut down production next week
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Pittsburg-based StarKist Co., has confirmed that production at its StarKist Samoa Inc. facility in American Samoa will shut down all next week due to fish shortages, as the head count of the workforce remains low creating a ripple effect for cannery operations.
Samoa News received information from StarKist Samoa workers — including those who are relatives of Samoa News staff — that the cannery’s workforce were informed recently of production shutting down for one-week after Mother’s Day Sunday (May 9th). Samoa News also received separate information from fishing industry officials that the territory’s largest private employer is facing low fish supplies and that the head-count of personnel also remains low, despite efforts to recruit more workers, especially fish cleaners.
Responding to Samoa News’ email questions, StarKist Co.’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Michelle Faist said in a brief statement yesterday morning that, “StarKist Samoa announced the decision to shut down the facility during the week of May 10, due to fish shortages.”
“The fish shortage is related to low headcount issues that have created a ripple effect within the StarKist Samoa operation,” said Faist who pointed out that members of the StarKist management team have notified Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga and his administration about the week-long shut down.
She said StarKist Samoa would resume production on May 17.
It’s been more than a month now since ASG and StarKist Samoa implemented a program to help the cannery address the worker shortages. The program allows foreigners living in the territory with expired P5 Immigration IDs to get the IDs renewed on the condition that they would work for StarKist Samoa.
Faist didn’t respond to Samoa News’ specific question about whether this effort has been successful and whether StarKist has hired more workers.
The Lemanu & Talauega Administration has publicly voiced concerns with workers not returning to work after getting the stimulus checks and have urged all workers — including those at the cannery — not to quit their jobs after getting stimulus checks.
Faist didn’t address Samoa News’ specific question as to whether the cannery is offering incentives to ensure that workers return to work after getting their stimulus checks and the type of incentive — if such is offered.
The first batch of the 3rd Economic Impact Payment — or stimulus checks — are being released today through the mail for those with a mailing address, and the rest will be available at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium.
However, two cannery workers told Samoa News yesterday that StarKist management informed the workforce this week that those without mailboxes will be able to get their checks at the cannery plant where they will be distributed tomorrow, Friday, “So we don’t have to go to Lee Auditorium, and probably end up waiting in line for a long time.”
Workers with mailing address on their tax filings will still get the stimulus checks in the mail today. Direct deposits are also available for those who sign up.