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Following the law, TAOA must lay off some seniors

 Of the 72 senior citizens who were scheduled to be laid off last week from the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) employment program,TAOA Director Fa’afiti Tauanu’u said not all will be laid off immediately.

In an interview with Samoa News last week the Director said that some of the senior citizens who are working under the Senior Citizens Employment program have yet to fulfill their 48 months as required by law before they are laid off.

Tauanu’u explained that the Department of Labor rules, which went into effect in 2007, require that senior citizens hired under Title 5, have to be terminated from the program after serving 48 months.

He added that another reason for the layoff is due to the limited funding the TAOA office receives for assistance.

“This is the law and for some reason in the past, it was not enforced. However the law is the law and we can no longer continue this program and not follow the rules that are already in place,” he said.

The Director told Samoa News that over 3,000 senior citizens are registered with this program. The seniors have been informed about this law, which is now being enforced, and when they reach the maximum employment time, they will be terminated unless they are needed for certain obligations, he said.

Examples of certain obligations include “the senior folks working with DOE and who are attending classes, and also some of the older women who are teaching how to put together Samoan handicrafts.”

He added that for some of the 72 employees the completion of their 48 months will be the end of the year.

Samoa News met with some of the senior citizens at their work stations (to’omaga) who said they have decided not to complain about the issue, noting that they may not have another chance to work in the Senior Citizens Employment program.

The Director explained that the names of senior citizens who are being laid off will be inserted into the waiting list for openings. He said the senior citizens are employed only four hours a day, and they work in many types of jobs.

Tauanu’u said that at the moment TAOA only accepts residents, and non-residents who hold AA or BA, and CA immigration status, but all others are not eligible to apply for TAOA programs. One is considered a senior citizen for the program at the age of 60 years and above.