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Some 80 workers to be laid off by end of month

By Marieta Heidi Ilalio

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Dec. 1, 2008) - Samoa’s biggest private employer, Yazaki Eds Samoa, is fighting for survival. It has asked the government for help to stay afloat.

"Our company presented a request to the government for help in this time of financial crisis," General Manager Funefe’ai Oliva Va’ai revealed yesterday.

At one stage Yasaki employed about 2,000 workers.

[PIR editor’s note: Yasaki Eds Samoa is an auto parts factory and one of Samoa’s largest employers.]

"We’ve mentioned in this request the costs of the products we import," Funefe’ai said.

Orders from automotive brands such as GM Holden and Mitsubishi have dropped as automobile sales overseas slumped putting a strain on Yazaki’s cash flow.

Last month started laying off staff who were not directly involved in the assembling wire harnesses that Yazaki manufactures. A total of 80 employees would be made redundant by end of this month.

Most of them worked in administration, engineering and other services referred to at Yazaki as "in-directs."

TV One reported that Yazaki has asked the government for an aid package worth WST10 million [US$4 million].

Funefe’ai told the television station the areas they wanted assistance in by way of cuts in charges are in shipping, electricity and Value Added Goods and Services Tax (VAGST).

"We are also requesting the government for the possibility of reimbursement on the improvements that we’ve actually made to the factory," he said.

Yazaki leases its premises at Vaitele from the government.

"We pay VAGST and we actually get refunded through a draw back system."

Funefea’i told Samoa Observer they’ve asked the government not to refund the VAGST Yazaki pays but to help by lowering shipping costs.

"When we talk redundancies and lay offs it is a very, very sensitive issue," he explained. "It is very unfortunate that we have had to resort to redundancies to make sure that we survive in the long term."

"I say that the government has indicated a keenness for Yazaki to continue its service here in Samoa.

"They’ve moved very, very quickly to try and help us out.

"I think as everyone knows it’s not a crisis that’s confined to Samoa."

Funefeai said the government has appointed a committee to look into a rescue package for Yazaki.

This committee, he told Samoa Observer, is headed by the Chief Executive Officer of Inland Revenue, Silafau Paul Meredith.

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