Samoa - Labor

In 2000, there were approximately 90,000 workers in Samoa. The majority is engaged in agriculture, and cash crops are raised as supplements to subsistence crops. Agriculture, forestry and fishing account for 65% of wage employment; services account for 30% and industry for 5%.

There are only two trade unions in the country, representing workers at the three major banks and the country's only factory. Although small, a trade union movement has been established. Public employees are represented by the Public Service Association. Approximately 20% of the workforce is unionized. Over the years, thousands of skilled and semiskilled Samoans have left the islands, mainly drawn away by better economic opportunities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States

Labor is generally restricted to a 40-hour week. Payment is in cash, and in many cases rations are also supplied to workers either as part of their wages or in addition to them. In most cases, living quarters are provided for plantation workers. The minimum hourly wage was $0.47 in 2001. Samoan labor law also provides for rudimentary safety and health standards, but these standards are not effectively enforced. Children may not work before the age of 15, but the law does not apply to service rendered to the matai, who sometimes require children to work on village farms. Moreover, increasing numbers of children work as street vendors in Apia.

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