CUC OKs hazard pay for employees


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board approved last Tuesday a proposal to include longevity pay for CUC workers who’ve been loyal to the corporation, among many other increases.

CUC chief financial officer Antonio Castro had proposed giving longevity pay and hazard pay to select employees and CUC board members unanimously approved the proposal at the special board meeting.

The 5-percent hazard pay would cover 177 CUC employees on Saipan, 24 on Rota, and eight on Tinian, totaling 209 employees in all. That would translate to $45,615 for the remainder of fiscal year 2017.

The longevity pay would only cover employees who’ve been with CUC four years onward. Employees who have been with CUC for four to nine years would be offered a 5-percent raise. An additional 2.5-percent raise would be added every five years thereafter, capping out at 12.50-percent for employees who have served CUC for more than 22 years.

Longevity pay is projected to cost CUC $408,796 in fiscal year 2018 and would affect over 200 CUC employees. That translates to a cost of $110,061 for the rest of fiscal year 2017.

“The discussion about taking care of our employees out in the field and exposed to hazardous environments [has] been going on for months. Our CFO and our budget analyst were able to assess our financial standing to encourage this increase in expenditure. Although it may seem more significant in the next fiscal year, I think I can speak for the board when I say we view it as an investment in our human resources versus an expense,” said CUC board member Eric San Nicolas.

“This is a way of giving what has been due our employees for years,” he added.

CUC board chair Adelina Roberto pointed out that the rate increase would not affect ratepayers since CUC is capable of financially supporting the additional payments for their employees.

“I would like to emphasize that we are taking action on this without asking for a rate increase from our ratepayers,” she said.

“This recognizes [what all the] employees of CUC deserve,” said CUC board member Joe Torres.

According to San Nicolas, the Fox and Lawson salary scale that was approved in 2015 did not include hazard pay as previously thought.

“In 2015 we approved the Fox and Lawson salary scale. At that point we were told by representatives and the former executive directors of this corporation that hazard pay was embedded to some degree in the paycheck of these employees, especially those that are involved with hazardous work,” Torres said.

“Unfortunately, we found out from Fox and Lawson that hazard pay was never embedded in the salaries. We have—and I can speak for Tinian—linemen technicians that work on $16,000 per annum salaries that are exposed to hazardous environments and were never paid hazardous pay.”

The additional pay increases will take effect this June.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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