An era in Samoa’s history ended yesterday.
After 26 years of operation in Samoa, the country’s biggest private employer officially closed during a bittersweet ceremony held at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum last night.
There, the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II joined Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to bid farewell to the Yazaki Corporation.
Tuilaepa thanked them for their contribution to Samoa’s economy through job creation.
The closing ceremony was well attended with more than 1,000 guests joining employees of the company which opened its doors in Samoa in 1991.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa said when Yazaki closed its doors in Australia, this opened the opportunity for Samoa.
“The government immediately offered attractive options for Yazaki to consider Samoa as place of operation,” he said.
“The main objective the government considered was to offer employment to our people.
“Initially, 3,000 employees were hired for jobs that 1,000 people could do. The public were impressed when Yazaki made the move to Samoa and especially with the hiring of 3,000 people and an enormous compound.
“The question was posed: how did the government deliver such compelling achievements? The answer was simple.
“The quick actions by the cabinet to offer enticing and attractive options, such as the government construction of the buildings, for them to utilize free of charge and they were exempted from paying duty taxes.”
According to the Prime Minister, there were challenges the management faced with the attitude of the Samoan employees at the beginning. “The employees were not used to standing the whole day and working all the time, until break. They were not allowed to talk while on the job, not allowed to smoke, and other employees were always late in the mornings, calling in sick, when they were actually doing something else.
“I was asked at the time I was Minister of Finance, to talk to the employees and encourage them on the importance of hard working and following the rules.
“I gave them the ultimatum and threatened to close down Yazaki.” He told the audience the action by Yazaki is a business move.
“This is how corporate businesses operate, they open one branch and close another and they target countries that make them money and most especially countries with low minimum wage.”
Tuilaepa thanked Yazaki for the many years they invested in Samoa.
“For those who are left jobless, today the Committee met and went through the numerous proposals by companies who are interested in utilizing the Yazaki Compound. These companies have been waiting for this day,” he said.
To the Yazaki Management: I am bidding you farewell as you leave our shores. You have made a huge contribution to our economy, and created job opportunities for our people, and for that I thank you for your decision to invest in our Country. “Wherever you may be should you decide again to return we will always be here to welcome you back with open arms,” said Tuilaepa.
President of Yazaki, Craig O’Donohue noted the auspicious occasion is one of the most significant milestones in the history of Yazaki Samoa Limited.
“My role today is simple, we’re all here to celebrate and I stand here today to declare my pride, sincere appreciation to all the supporters of this great company who graciously joined us today.” He said that Yazaki was fortunate to have extremely talented people.
“A key message of today that is the achievement of the Yazaki members before us, our customer, our company, all of our friends and our people, perfect quality, perfect people, and perfect performance.” To the employees: “I can absolutely say you are the best in class, world class in everything they do in a very quickly and changing global environment.
“The performance of Yazaki Samoa in the highest level of global expectation must never be under estimated and I say this most sincerely, it must never be under estimated by the whole of the country of Samoa,” said Mr O’Donohue.
Tagaloa Ryosuke Yazaki a member of the Yazaki Family also spoke at the event and noted that Samoa is very special to Yazaki. He was honored with a newly bestowed Chiefly title of Tagaloa from the village of Vaitele on Friday morning. He spoke about his experience with the Samoan people and how they are unique. “I was 22 at the time, I lived in Lalovaea for 100 days, and it was the most memorable days of my life, and my purpose, here was to learn harnessing wire production, before I joined the company.
“The biggest lesson I learned in Samoa, in other countries, people expect something in return for favors, but not Samoans. “Their true hospitality, Samoan people lends support, by nature, and by heart. And it is one of the most important things that I love about Samoans.”
Yazaki’s biggest customer Toyota also had a Representative, Corporate Manager of Purchasing Mr Ray Borg who gave remarks on behalf of Global President Akio Toyota. Mr Toyota in his letter “I would like to personally thank you for your strong cooperation in the 26 years of production in Samoa.”