13 Feb 2007

American Samoa's Common Cause says increase minimum wage rather than governor's salary

4:52 pm on 13 February 2007

The president of Common Cause in American Samoa, P. Ben Teo, is meeting the senate president to demand an increase in the minimum wage before the governor's salary is boosted.

A bill is before the senate proposing to raise both the governor and the lieutenant governor's salaries.

Mr Teo says he's opposed to the increases because it will mean the governor, Togiola Tulafono, receiving a salary of 100,000 U.S. dollars.

The governor and the lieutenant governor are also entitled to free government housing, a vehicle and travel allowances.

Mr Teo says this is incredible given that the minimum wage in the territory is only $2.96 an hour.

He says Common Cause wants that increased to 5 dollars an hour and the salaries of teachers raised before other increases are agreed to.

"We're taking it step by step. If the letter and my meeting with the president of the senate does not work, then our next step is a petition. If that doesn't work, then our last option is going on a hunger strike and that's the president of Common Cause, leading that hunger strike, inside the Fono house."

Mr Teo says he's also calling for a public hearing into the proposal.