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Bumble Bee did not choose Samoa because of low minimum wage says CEO

Despite public perception that Bumble Bee is developing the canneries in Samoa due to the low minimum wage, that is not the view of Bumble Bee President and CEO Chris Lischewski. In response to Samoa News questions about the matter, Lischewski pointed out that “Bumble Bee is excited to come to Samoa given the attractive location in the heart of the Pacific fishing grounds, the availability of a large and productive workforce and the positive approach Government has taken in working with us to develop the first tuna processing facility in Samoa.”


According to a recent announcement by Samoa’s Ministry of Commerce, Labour and Industry (M.C.I.L.) Assistant CEO, Si'iliili Isaia Lameko, the minimum wage will increase from WST$2.00 to WST$2.30 (equivalent amounts are USD $1.00 to $1.15) and this will be in effect January 2015.


“Workers being paid the minimum wage in the private sector have reason to look forward to the new year.” According to the announcement by the government the increase of  15 sene is in accordance with section 32 of the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013 and Cabinet Decision F.K. (14)17 dated 21 May 2013.


As such: “Employers and employees of the private sector organizations and the business communities are advised that the minimum wage will be increased from $2.00 to $2.30 per hour (and) the effective date of this wage increase is January 1, 2015. “Business communities, employers and employees are advised accordingly in advance for implementing this change.”


Lischewski said they expect to break ground before the end of 2014 with construction and Bumble Bee plans to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2015.


Samoa News asked Bumble Bee if they were planning to hire local contracts or bring in their own people, and in response Lischewski said Bumble Bee will manage the project but expect to use local contractors to do the actual construction.


Regarding employment, Bumble Bee expects to start with 250 – 300 direct employees, then expand as production ramps up, said Lischewski. He did not specify as to the minimum wage Bumble Bee is planning to start off with for its employees, but he said “Bumble Bee will meet all local requirements and will pay a competitive local wage.”


Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi recently announced that the cannery operations will be at Matautu Wharf in the town area of Apia. Bumble Bee plans to build a processing plant for pre-cooked loins and frozen tuna products there.