GUAM GOVERNMENT SEEKS SAFETY NET FOR WORKERS

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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 19) - Government of Guam agencies are coordinating to keep the 27 laid-off Guam Telephone Authority employees from falling into the unemployment abyss.

The Guam Department of Labor, the Agency for Human Resources Management, the Department of Administration and the telephone company privatization's Interim Transition Coordinating Committee are working to provide a safety net for the 27 who were terminated last week, said Marcel Camacho, executive secretary of the transition committee.

In addition to helping the workers, the transition committee would like private Guam Telephone Authority to explain whether the layoff of the 12 former government workers who are part of the 27 was allowed under local laws and the agreement that allowed for the government phone company to be sold.

In a letter to Guam Telephone Authority management, Marcel Camacho asked "whether or not there were breaches" to local laws and the asset purchase agreement.

Guam Telephone Authority management stated Friday that layoffs are allowed under the privatization law as long as the affected employees are given proper severance pay -- and if letting go of workers becomes a necessary business decision.

Marcel Camacho said Governor Felix Camacho called him about the layoff at Guam Telephone Authority. Felix Camacho is seeking re-election and is running with Republican Senator Mike Cruz.

"The governor is concerned and wants to ensure that we treat these affected employees fairly and we look for any opportunities to keep their livelihood going despite the layoffs," Marcel Camacho said.

The efforts to help the workers include job skills training under Agency for Human Resources Management and job placement efforts by the local Labor Department.

The Guam Telephone Authority was sold for US$150 million in cash and other terms in what became the single largest sale of a government of Guam asset.

After the privatization, in January 2005, about 60 of the Guam Telephone Authority workers were able to land jobs with other GovGuam agencies, Camacho said.

The Guam Telephone Authority privatization's transition office will continue to exist until the governor or the Legislature decides its job is done, Marcel Camacho said.

The committee's roles have included managing the assets from the sale, handling government employee matters related to the privatization, and government land issues that linger.

"I think our role really is to monitor and ensure that what we are doing is in compliance with the laws and the asset purchase agreement," Marcel Camacho said.

June 20, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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