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StarKist workers concerned about upcoming layoffs at the cannery

StarKist employees at gate
Employees who disappeared after getting stimulus and refund checks will be cut

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — StarKist Samoa employees are very concerned by the latest announcement by the cannery that about 400 employees will be laid off from work staring this week. Cannery management, however, says if you’ve continued to work regularly, you won’t be affected.

Samoa News has received word from StarKist workers — some of them family members of Samoa News staff — claiming that an announcement was made during morning devotion last week that employees will be laid off from work starting this week.

Workers also voiced concerns and disappointment on other workforce issues such as the use of profane language by some supervisors; work overload; mistreatment of employees by other supervisors; stealing and favoritism; and the fact that sometimes workers have to work 10 hours a day with with not enough time for breaks and rests.

Workers told Samoa News that according to the announcement, those who are going to be affected in the lay-off are those workers who have reached their limit of ‘bad marks’ due to being absent from work or other reasons.

Several workers who spoke to Samoa News regarding this issue voiced their concern about the future of the cannery in the territory.

“This is what happened when workers leave their job because of the financial benefits that are coming onto our shore such as the stimulus checks and the tax refund. These financial benefits are not permanent but these workers choose to leave their permanent job because of these benefits. It really concerns me because I have worked for the cannery for over 15 years and this is the only source of income to feed my family. If the cannery decides to close and move back to the mainland, where are we going to get jobs to feed our family?” a 45-year-old worker told Samoa News.

Another worker said that employees who stopped showing up around the time that the stimulus checks were released are now returning to the job only to find out there’s not much work for them. She said the decrease in work is because the cannery is operating only one shift instead of two and this has been the schedule for two weeks now.

“I’m very concern about the layoff and also rumors about reduction of working hours for the workforce. If these things happened, everyone will take home smaller paychecks,” a female worker told Samoa News. She further stated that “anytime there is a shutdown or reduction in cannery production days or operation it also impacts the financial situation in my family because this is the only job where I get money to feed my family.”

One worker explained that the cannery has a system, which gives employees points whenever they are absent without an excuse. Employees who stopped showing up for work have found out that while the cannery is on one shift, they have to wait in line because first priority for jobs is given to workers who didn’t desert their jobs.

Other workers used social media to voice their frustration regarding the mistreatment and the bad behavior by supervisors within the workforce. One worker posted on his Facebook page last week his disappointment with his supervisor for using profanity almost everyday during work. This same worker stated on his Facebook page that he reported this matter to the management but nothing has been done to his supervisor. He then decided to use the social media to voice his frustration. His Facebook posts have over 200 comments and 186 shares.

When asked for a comment, a senior official at StarKist Samoa confirmed the plan to layoff employees, however, he denied rumors that it will affect workers who are currently working at the cannery.

He told Samoa News that the cannery is clearing its employee list and all employees who have not reported to work for up to 4 months now will be the ones that are laid off. According to the senior official, StarKist has a standard policy of “no call and no show” for five-days means an employee will be automatically terminated.

“All employee who haven’t reported back to work for over a month up to 4 months now will be the ones who to be targeted in the layoff plan. All employees who are currently working will continue to report to work as scheduled,” the senior official said.

Speaking about the recent post on social media by some of the cannery workers, the senior official said that everyone has the right to post whatever they want to post on social media. However, when it comes to issues and allegations toward cannery workers and supervisors, management would need to carefully review the matter in an effort to find out whether these allegations are true or not.

The senior official confirmed that the issue is now before management and a meeting with all the supervisors and leaders of the cannery is scheduled to address the issue.

“In the cannery workplace these types of behavior are unacceptable and there are rules and standard orders which has already set to guide our work. Anyone who fails to abide with these rules and standards will face consequences immediately,” the senior official said.

He further stated that he understands how frustrated the workers who posted these things on social media are, however, he humbly informs all workers that if things like this happened in their workplace, their duty is to report it to the main office immediately.

“The use of profane language in the cannery compound by any cannery employee is prohibited. If a supervisor or anyone wants to use this type of language, please do it in your own home, not in the work place.”

Samoa News understands that a special meeting was called yesterday morning for all supervisors and management to address the issue. The cannery worker who posted on social media was called to the main office to reveal the name of the supervisor involved in the matter.