23 Jun 2003

Committee decides against raising American Samoa wage rates

10:39 am on 23 June 2003

A committee appointed by the US Secretary of labour to review local minimum wages in American Samoa has recommended that beginning wages for all industries be maintained at their present levels.

The committee voted 4 to 2 against increasing local wages after a week of hearing testimony from employers, employees and public officials.

American Samoa has some of the highest hourly pay rates in the South Pacific.

Minimum wages are classified by industry with the largest industry, tuna canning paying an hourly rate of $3.26

The lowest hourly rate for government employees is $2.77, retailing and wholesaling is $3.10 and shipping is $3.88

During the hearings, the territory's main employers, including the American Samoa government, opposed any hike in minimum wages

Congressman Faleomavaega and Representative Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae Jr both urged the committee to increase local pay rates because the cost of living has gone up and to fairly compensate workers for their labour.