25 Feb 2008

Hearing in American Samoa told of more opposition to annual wage increases

12:14 pm on 25 February 2008

A Congressional hearing on the minimum wage has again been told that if the annual wage hikes set out under the federal minimum wage law are not removed, the territory will face economic collapse.

All of those giving evidence in person favoured the amendment of the wage law to remove the escalator provision that provides for on going gradual increases.

They want any further hikes to be based on a study of prevailing economic factors.

The Senate President Lolo Moliga told the hearing that government leaders are not against giving local workers higher wages, but they must first make sure that the economy will not suffer.

"The primary concern of the local leaders is to ensure and to guarantee that the people will not lose their jobs in our attempt to raise the minimum wage in American Samoa"

None of the witnesses who were given the chance to testify supported the wage hikes.

But several written testimonies, submitted as part of the hearing record, urged the committee not to remove the incremental increases.

Representative Mase Akapo Akapo said Congress should leave the wage law alone but give the canneries federal tax incentives they need to maintain their competitiveness.