18 Jan 2007

American Samoa renews efforts to avoid being added to federal minimum wage billn

11:33 am on 18 January 2007

American Samoa's Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says the current spotlight on the minimum wage is a chance to focus on the territory's economy.

Along with Governor Togiola Tulafono, Faleomavaega has been contacting leaders of the US Congress to ensure American Samoa's non-inclusion in a bill which would raise the territory's minimum wage to US federal levels.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the bill would include American Samoa but Faleomavaega and Togiola have both warned it could devastate the local tuna industry and the territory's economy.

The congressmansays he understands why local leaders are so concerned about the increase.

"But on the other hand this will also be a good opportunity to really get to the bottom line because as you know I've been one of the strongest critics of why our minimum wage has not increased in conjunction with our local economic condition. Now I think what we need is a good cleansing of finding exactly where we stand economically and I think it'll be good in a way... let's look at the situation."