Supporting the transition of workers. A Samoan Case Study (Yazaki)

The overall objective of this ILO project is to strengthening existing national employment and social protection services to support the transition of 671 workers (men: 38 per cent and women: 62 per cent) to secure alternative employment and livelihoods, preferably in the formal sector.


Worker's at the Yazaki factory in Apia, Samoa.
Yazaki, a multinational enterprise (MNE) and largest private sector employer in Samoa ceases operations in August 2017. The Samoa National Employment Policy (NEP) and recently signed Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP), highlights the implications on the labour market and economy ( annual loss of U$1.04m in personal income and 59 per cent loss in export revenue of the government). 60 per cent of the total Yazaki workforce are youth out of which 75 per cent are sole earners in the family. In addition, 90% have below tertiary level qualifications making the transition to anther formal employment difficult and can potentially increase the current youth unemployment rate of 16 per cent, potentially highlighted in the ILO supported Labour Force Survey commencing in July 2017.

Yazaki has complied with provision 26 of the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises, in informing the government on its closure. Provision 28 states “Governments, in cooperation with multinational as well as national enterprises, should provide some form of income protection for workers whose employment has been terminated.”

In May 2017, CO-Suva conducted a mapping exercise on available services, including services established with the technical assistance of ILO, to identify which services can be immediately availed to disenfranchised Yazaki workers, including implementing partners. The mapping exercise has been endorsed by the Samoa National Tripartite Forum (SNTF).

The ILO supported Samoa National Employment Policy (NEP) 2016-20 prioritizes all participants in the labour force to gain decent and productive employment, and also includes objectives such as employment services, formality of employment and income security.

Yazaki is an Apia based, Japanese owned, largest private sector employer in Samoa, currently employing 671 locals (men: 38 per cent and women: 62 per cent). This accounts for 12 per cent of the national formal urban workforce and 28.5 per cent of manufacturing sector workers. In the last few years, Yazaki has been downsizing, but recently officially announced the full closure of operations by 31 December 2017. The closure of the largest manufacturer is predicted to have economic and labour market implications, as specifically highlighted in the Samoa NEP. A local employment and economic disaster for Samoa.

Yazaki workers participating in a training exercise.
Samoa became a member of the ILO 2005 and in 2014 was reclassified from a least developed country (LDC), to a lowermiddle-income economy. In the same year, Samoa hosted the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), adopting the S.A.M.O.A1 pathway statement agreeing to prioritise decent employment opportunities, particularly for young people, women and persons with disabilities. The Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS) 2017-202 not only aligns to the S.A.M.O.A pathway but also aligns to SDG 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.


Therefore, the overall objective of this ILO project is to strengthening existing national employment and social protection services to support the transition of 671 workers (men: 38 per cent and women: 62 per cent) to secure alternative employment and livelihoods, preferably in the formal sector. To deliver this, the ILO will work closely with national partners – ILO tripartite constituents, other relevant government agencies and NGO’s.

The project will prioritize and tailor services for sole family earners, women, particularly single mothers and youths. The ultimate beneficiaries of this project are disenfranchised workers and their family members– children, youth, women, elderly, disabled persons. However, at the end of the project, the services will also be accessible to all unemployed Samoans. The direct beneficiaries are relevant government agencies, employer and non-government agencies that need to be strengthened and provided employment and social protection services.


  1. Grant Agreement with Samoa First Union - The objective of this agreement is to register the workers that are interest in affiliating with workers Union through Samoa First Union as way to protect them from risk of exploitation. 
    Samoa First Union is a Workers organization and was establish in year 2014. Similar to other Workers organization, its objective is the protection of the rights of the workers and voicing concerns and issues workers have to their employers. Samoa First Union is an affiliate member of the umbrella body of the Workers in Samoa; the Samoa Workers Congress, and currently have 120 members that are from Yazaki Samoa. Unlike other workers association, Samoa First Union member’s registration are able to done individually without going through and association.The ILO partnership through ACTRAV have a strong links with Samoa First Union on the young leadership courses that ILO provided regionally for its members.
  2. Grant Agreement with Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) - the objective of this grant agreement will be identifying the women workers who are sole earner and have in-school children, to include in the second phase of the SBEC training and become SBEC members for assisting and monthly business monitoring for 2 months. The Small Business Enterprise Centre - SBEC SAMOA is a semi-government organization established in 1994 to encourage the development of small business in Samoa. The SBEC Model for business development includes business training, business advisory; facilitate access to finance and business nurturing and support. This model has made SBEC a unique set up for an organization mandated to support and grow small businesses in Samoa. The SBEC services include Small Business Management Training, Small Business Advisory Services, Facilitation of Access to Financial Resources, Advocating and Facilitating Small Business into Positive Change, a Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme (SBLGS) is set up to provide client's loan with one of the selected participating Financial Institutions. The ILO partnership with the SBEC is mainly on the Youth Employment Programme as its previous engagement in SYB courses that was joint delivered with SBEC in previous years.
  3. Grant Agreement with Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) - the objective of this agreement is to assist the Yazaki workers with basic skills on managing their redundancy packages and by closing of Yazaki, SCCI were able to train and assist 20 youth from Yazaki on the course of start their business with the internship roll out for 3 months. The Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) is Samoa’s National Private Sector Organization (NPSO). It is an incorporated association of businesses and private sector organizations representing all areas of Samoa’s private sector. The Chamber’s purpose, as outlined in its Constitution is “to act as Samoa’s National Private Sector Organization that will promote the interests, well-being and growth of Samoa’s private sector at the national, regional and international levels to improve the economic and social well-being of the people of Samoa.” The ILO partnership with the Pacific Island Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) has strong links to the SNYC.
  4. Grant Agreement with Samoa National Youth Council (SNYC) - the objective of this agreement will be to register 671 Yazaki workers on the E-Youth Hub and generate their CV’s. E-Youth Hub - One major initiative has been the design and development of the E-Youth Hub funded by the ILO through the One U.N Samoa Youth Employment Program. Launched recently, the E-Youth Hub is designed to profile the youth of Samoa aged 18-35 years to have access to a variety of trainings, workshops and job opportunities available by local Ministries, organizations and companies. SNYC is a non-government organization established in 2012 to be the focal office for youth-led activities in Samoa. In recent years, SNYC has been an implementing partner of the ILO on youth employment activities in Samoa. This is in line with the national and regional youth employment priorities, highlighted in the DWCP and Pacific Youth Development Framework (PYDF). The ILO partnership with the Pacific Youth Council (PYC) has strong links to the SNYC.