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Mixed reactions voiced to the minimum wage delay

Workers contacted by Samoa News/Le Lali staff had mixed reactions to federal legislation passed this week by the US House to delay the next minimum wage increase until 2015.  The bill, which originated from the US Senate is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

Vitale Tufuga of Aua, who works for a local construction company, says 2015 is three years away and by that time, the cost of living will have gone further up and workers are faced with the hardship of trying to meet financial needs, especially the continuing increase in the costs of goods.

Aliitasi Fepuleai, a cashier at a local restaurant is strongly against the delay in wage increases, because while the minimum wage will remain the same until 2015 the cost of living continues to go up.  She says the LBJ Medical Center recently increased fees and ASPA rates have gone up, adding more burden to workers and families in the territory.

Alesana Afamasaga and his wife Fegauia’i - both workers at StarKist Samoa - say that whatever the final decision is on this issue, they would respect it. “Perhaps it's better to maintain the current level of minimum wage instead of another increase that could cause another reduction in workforce,” said Alesana, who was reluctant to comment fearing it would affect their employment status.

Four other StarKist Samoa workers interviewed by Samoa News said they support the delay for now. One worker said that maybe a three year break will give the companies operating in the territory time to readjust their budgets and operations in a way that when the next 50 cent hike is implemented, there will be sufficient funding to support the hike in labor cost.