30 May 2007

CNMI stops hiring garment workers awaiting industry collapse

1:34 pm on 30 May 2007

Saipan's Chamber of Commerce in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says the Department of Labour has been told to stop hiring garment workers.

This comes after the US President George Bush approved an increase of the minimum wage by 50 cents in two months and 50 cents every year following until local wages have reached the federal wage rate of US$7.25 an hour.

The Chamber's President, Juan Guerrero, says it is dire news for businesses.

He says they now face layoffs, reduced hours or closure, as the wage rise comes into effect.

Mr Guerrero says for the garment industry, it's fair to assume that in 90 days it will be gone.

"The garment industry is history. I see the Governor has instructed the Department of Labour to stop hiring of garment workers into the Commonwealth. A 50cent increase will make the garment out of market competitiveness."

However, Mr Guerrero says the news is very good for minimum wage earners, who will get more money in their pocket.