Update: Governor delivers good news to workers at Labor Day celebration
Speaking at last Friday’s Labor Day celebration at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga announced that the pay increase for ASG workers making less than $10,000 a year will go into effect in the new fiscal year, if the Fono approves the administration’s final FY 2014 budget proposal.
Lolo says that the departments of Education and Public Works—the two ASG entities who performed siva and pese during the ceremony— have many workers making less than $10,000 a year.
If the Senate and House approves the FY 2014 budget, Lolo said all these workers as well as others in the ASG workforce will get their annual pay increased to $10,000 or more. The message resulted in applause from the crowd.
He said these workers have been tirelessly serving the public, but many of them are still getting about $7,000, $8,000 or $9,000 a year and these salaries are not sufficient to provide for their families.
Therefore, he said a directive has been given to the Human Resources Department and Treasury Department at the start of the new fiscal year (which is Oct. 1, 2013) - and upon approval of the FY 2014 budget -all these individuals pay scale will be above $10,000.
Lolo didn’t elaborate further as to how much money is being allocated for these pay hikes or how many employees will be affected.
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili said, the government hasn't calculated the amount of money involved or the number of employees affected, as the review is ongoing.
“The cost of living has gone up and I believe the Governor's effort here is to help stabilize conditions within each employee's personal economies. I think it is a positive direction for our people,” said Pili.
Last Friday’ celebration was described by those who spoke at the ceremony as a historic event because it’s the first time that the government publicly honored and paid tribute to not only its own workforce but that of the private sector. The government also presented special awards— including monetary assistance— to at least three individuals who have been serving in the government for over 50 years.
The local U.S. Army Reserve and some local businesses were invited to participate in the celebration and the parade and the governor thanked them for their participation, saying that “it makes a big difference and it brings dignity into our celebration today.”
Among the major local companies who participated were McConnell Dowell, Bluesky Communications, the Tool Shop, and Manu’a and Tutuila stores.
At the beginning of the event, the governor said this was a celebration for all workers in American Samoa serving the community as well as every American Samoan worker - starting from Congressman Faleomavaega Eni’s office in Washington D.C. to California and Hawai’i, to Australia and New Zealand and every other country around the world.
On this special day of honoring the labor force, Lolo says it’s the day in which everyone is equal — from the top government official, including himself and the Fono leadership — to the maintenance worker at Public Workers and the plumber at McConnell Dowell.
“To all the workers of American Samoa, whether you are a government employee or a private sector employee, today is the day that friends are for, and hopefully we nurtured that friendship,” said Lolo.
He says it’s important to honor the territory’s workforce as they play the vital role of developing American Samoa into a better place and making sure that government continues to operate.
He said the “spirit of working together and doing things together” is very important “because only with unity we can accomplish and achieve what we have set [out] to do.”
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie and House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale were the key speakers of the celebration and both thanked the governor for reaching out to the Fono to take part in this special event honoring workers.
Gaoteote says he has served in the Fono for some 13 years - both in the Senate and House - and this is the first time the Fono has been given the chance to present a voice in a government ceremony.
He praised the governor for putting workers first and honoring workers in American Samoa, by making the celebration the first of its kind in the territory.