Breaking the bank

June 21, 2010

For decades foreign contract workers have been routinely cheated of their wages.  Employers, some who never had the capital to hire workers from the get go, could not afford to pay their employees so they didn't.  Some would make promises of "next week" and other would lie and say, "Don't worry I opened a bank account for you and I am depositing your wages" (when they didn't) to ensure that their domestic helpers, farmers, or business employees kept working.  In the end, most unscrupulous employers never did pay the cheated workers the back wages that they owed them. The employees filed labor complaints, received administrative orders stating that the employers must pay, and with no enforcement from the CNMI DOL or OAG most never did get the wages that they were owed.

Basically, the cheated workers had worked for free, much like slaves. The CNMI government made some lame excuses and refused to fix the injustice.  In fact, their broken system perpetuated the abuses and compounded it until there were over $6.1 million in uncollected judgments recorded.

Now it seems it is the government employees who are being asked to work and suffer having their pay checks delayed. Their delayed paychecks were released yesterday, days after they should have been distributed. The Marianas Variety reported that the CNMI government spends $3 million in salary every two weeks.  If that is the case where will the funds for future pay come from?  There is only so much money that can be shifted around and borrowed from other agencies until there just is no more.  Can the CNMI government that allowed thousands of foreign contract workers to be cheated be trusted to come up with real solutions to ensure that government employees receive their pay on time? I am not sure that they can. I would be very worried if I worked for the CNMI government.

House Minority leader Diego Benavente expressed his opinion about the situation:
It is clear and obvious that because of our economic situation, people are living from paycheck to paycheck. Not everybody, but a lot of them, including government employees, especially those making $12,000, $14,000 or $15,000 a year. We know that’s not enough to get food on the table, pay your utilities, mortgage and so we know that they suffer if they don’t get paid on time,” Benavente said.

“In my opinion, it’s a mistake on the administration’s part to pay first the essential public services employees. I think the fact is every single government employee has put that eight hours or two weeks work (and deserve to be paid on time),” he added.

The lawmaker said the administration knew that it had been overspending since Oct. 1, 2009, the start of fiscal year 2010, and should had initiated reduced allotments as early as the first two quarters.


Captain said...

And yet the administration (and many private sector business with the Gov. in the lead has been and still is fighting to keep suppressing the wages in the private sector.
All of the talk about the CW taking jobs away from the "locals".
Very few "locals" will work for minimum wages.
Many jobs that are "reserved" for "locals' are presently (and in the past) have been held by CW because employers can't fill these positions with "local" workers.

So Cinta, Seamers and the rest at DOL and those in the community, quit crying about the CW taking jobs away from the locals.
If any US Cit. finds a job held by a CW that they are qualified for and is willing to work for the same wages, bring it to the attention of the employer and also DOL.

From many past experience by many private sector employers, (me included)We have put US Cit. on a 90 day probationary period and have retained the CW.(both at the same wage scale)
Construction wise wage scale in most companies has always been above minimum wage by at least $1.50-$2.50
All employees including US Cit. are on the same contract as the CW with the same terms and conditions also for tardiness and no shows. (Usually 3 times on any one, or both and end of employment)

All have no employer supplied housing or food. Only medical insurance for all. New US hires after 90 days.
The percentage for US Cit. that are still employed after 90 days, unfortunately,is very dismal.(most just do not return after a few weeks or more.
Many of us are putting things in "mothballs", hiring watchmen for the Saipan operatiopns and setting up operations in Guam until something happens here to improve things.

At present it does not look like anything will happen with this present "misfits", recycled incompetence, self servant wanna bees. with an "what in it for me" attitude.
I would suggest that many that are in the NMI Govt employment. look at Guam for employment until this "clown" is out of office and things change.