More on the Marianas garment industry

Via Radio New Zealand:

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.

Something is not quite right here. The Department of Labour has been told by who, exactly? And why does the DOL in the Marianas hire garment workers? Surely the garment workers are hired by private companies?

When minimum wages rise, there are always howls from business protesting that they won’t be able to stay open; but in this case, it seems like government is stepping in before the business even have a chance to fail — or, as seems more likely, stepping in before the businesses have a chance to absorb the wage hike and go on as usual.

Feels to me like someone is playing chicken.

In other news from Saipan’s garment factories, early last month a number of women who protested against their employer were subject to pepper spray and electric shocks by police.

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