8 Sep 2006

CNMI workers leave as hours shortened

4:02 pm on 8 September 2006

Many government employees are leaving the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas in response to the government's attempt to save money by forcing them to take a three-day weekend.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce says while he is in favour of the measures in a bid to cut public spending, the island is losing many of its workers.

The so-called austerity holiday means that government offices will be closed every other friday and regular employees who turn up for work, will not be paid.

Only those normally required to operate on legal holidays or to maintain a 24 hour schedule will be exempt.

Charles Cepeda from the Chamber of Commerce says the move has forced many public employees to leave the island.

"I am noticing a lot of the government workers who cannot afford a cut in pay have really packed up and left the island - literally. They've gone to move to the US mainland and move their family their for a better living."

Charles Cepeda of the Chamber of Commerce in the Northern Marianas.