11 Sep 2006

CNMI workers on forced extended weekend leave

10:34 am on 11 September 2006

About 4,000 government employees in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas have stayed at home on Friday after the government introduced a shorter working week.

In an attempt to save ten percent of the wages bill, the government is forcing staff to take every other friday off unpaid.

The so-called austerity holiday means that government employees who turn up for work will not be paid and will last for a year.

Only those normally required to operate on legal holidays or to maintain a 24 hour schedule will be exempt.

Our correspondent in Northern Marianas, Liberty Dones, says the measure has led to a feeling of sadness on the island.

"The overall feeling is we're broke, the government is broke, there's just this feeling of hopelessness like why is this happening. Of course, it's always, they always think it's the mismanagement of the government so I think they're giving it a try - let's see what happens if we do this."