Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, July 10, 2009

Philippine Leaders Acknowlege: Guam Prevailing Wage ALREADY High

By Jeff Marchesseault - Guam News Factor

GUAM - It appears there's no stopping Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr. from digging up, searching for, and finding emplolyment opportunity on Guam for workers once employed at U.S. Navy defense facilities in the Philippines' Subic Bay. Leaving no stone unturned, Mayor Gordon has reportedly been to Guam twice in the last two months.

The Mayor is unrelenting in the face of daunting challenges relative to the rules that will govern wage rates and foreign workers. Right now a battle is brewing over 2010 Defense Authoriztion Act amendments that would limit foreign worker participation in Guam's massive military buildup to 30 percent and would raise construction worker pay to roughly $26 an hour. A Manila Standard column explains that the current $12-an-hour rate now anticipated by Philippine-based workers is already considered high pay by exchange rate standards.

The controversial amendments have already passed the House and are now before the U.S. Senate as part of the $550.4 billion Defense Authorization Act. Local Guam businesses and the Camacho Administration are fighting against this bill they deem bad for business.

Whatever the final form of the national defense spending law for 2010, the Mayor of Olongapo is evidently lining up the best possible employment opportunities for his constituents and offering his best arguments for their hire. And he's reportedly not about to overlook the offshore interests of hometown entrepreneurial colleagues, either. Here's how Manila Standard Today columnist Jojo Robles sums up Gordon's unfolding game plan:

Mayor Gordon says he wants former Subic base workers who were trained by the US Navy to get priority in the hiring process. American military authorities, he says, already know the dedication and professionalism of Olongapo’s workers, who have undergone training in various specialized skills under the direction of the Americans.

The mayor visited Guam twice in the past two months to work out arrangements for the employment of workers from Olongapo, Zambales and Bataan. He also brought local businessmen with him so they check out bidding rules for contracts and projects that will be available once the buildup starts.

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