‘24-hour operation increasingly challenging for CUC’


With the economic crisis brought by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s becoming more and more financially challenging for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to operate 24 hours a day, according to CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho.

When asked if there is any plan to cut CUC employees’ biweekly 80 work hours schedule, Camacho said last Wednesday he still needs to work with the board of directors about that since they still need to operate a large infrastructure—water, wastewater, and power transmission, distribution, and generation.

“There’s still a huge responsibility to ensure that all of that is operational,” he said in an interview.

He said that keeping utility services available all the time 24 hours a day is “obviously overwhelming,” but that they understand the need to do so.

Camacho said they are already implementing austerity measures—he did not specify what those measures are— but reduction in work hours is just an extreme or expanded cost-cutting measure. At present, CUC is the only agency that’s not cutting work hours among government and autonomous agencies.

Camacho said that, right now, in his talks with CUC’s chief financial officer about the earlier cost-cutting measures, they were able to sustain their operation budget at a bare minimum.

He said they believe that, at some point, they will have to cut work hours, adding that this is just something that they’re reviewing at the management level. He said they would reduce the work hours as needed, but he could not determine that now.

“But, of course, like anything else, we would always try to minimize any impact to our employees and to our consumers as far as available services [are concerned]. We would like to be open five days a week,” he said.

Camacho said that, if any measures were taken, it would be, at the bare minimum, a reduction of eight hours per week, and then they would expand that as needed. “But again, it’s something that we have to look into. And we’re preparing. We have plans for it already,” he added.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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