GPA and EPA sign settlement

Benavente

HAGÅTÑA, Guam — The Guam Power Authority will pay penalties totaling $400,000 as part of a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a Feb. 10 release.

“Although challenging, the plan is achievable and GPA intends to complete the intent of the consent decree and be relieved of it within the next [four] years,” John M. Benavente, general manager of GPA, said. “The specific requirements with the consent decree would provide the island community with reliable power, clean air and green energy. The new power plant, coupled with renewable energy, will allow GPA to achieve compliance in an affordable manner.”

 

IT&E launches mobile eSim
TAMUNING, Guam — IT&E and 10T Tech Ltd. launched the digital eSIM services in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, according to a Feb. 2 release. Customers with the latest Apple iPhones, iPads and Google Pixel 3 and 3a devices are now able to sign up for IT&E services by purchasing a QR code. An eSim, or embedded SIM, is a SIM card that is directly within a mobile device.

 

Pacific Islands Leaders meeting to be held in Shima, Japan
TOKYO, Japan — The Japanese government has announced that next year’s Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting will be held in the city of Shima, in Mie Prefecture in central Japan.

The PALM conference has been held every three years since 1997, with the upcoming meeting due to debate issues such as conservation efforts and measures to help mitigate the risk of natural disasters. Other matters likely to be discussed include the sustainable use of maritime resources.

The last Pacific leaders’ meeting was held in 2018 in the town of Iwaki, in Fukushima Prefecture, with representatives of 19 nations and territories taking part.

PALM meetings are also designed to help Tokyo develop closer cooperative relations with the 16 other countries that make up the forum — Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

 

Guam Chamber hosts job fair
HAGÅTÑA, Guam — The Guam Chamber of Commerce hosted its 5th annual job fair on Feb. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Guam. A total of more than 20 members attended, with job openings ranging from entry level positions to supervisory positions. The event also featured seminars and featured guest speaker, Stacy Cunliffe Elarmo, interim head of human resources at GTA Teleguam.

 

Port authority secures agreement
PITI, Guam — The Port of Authority of Guam has its first collective bargaining agreement after more than a decade of negotiations, according to a Feb. 7 release. The agreement was effective as of Jan. 20 and covers work hours, scheduling, hazard pay and other areas of working conditions for operations and maintenance employees.

 

GCC seeks nominations, launches new undergraduate degree program
MANGILAO, Guam — The Guam Community College is seeking nominees for its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award, according to a Feb. 12 release. The award will be presented during the GCC commencement ceremony on May 15.

Applicants may download the nomination form at www.guamcc.edu, fill it out and submit it along with supporting materials to the GCC Development & Alumni Relations Office by March 16 at 5 p.m.

In other related news, GCC announced it will be offering its first four-year bachelor’s degree program in career technical education, according to a Feb. 4 release. The bachelor of science in career technical education aims to address the shortage of teachers in the region and will be offered starting this fall.

 

DOL fines Saipan company for overtime violations
HONOLULU —  AYD Services Inc. — a Saipan-based provider of environmental and waste collection services — has paid $30,077 in back wages and liquidated damages to 21 employees for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements. The employer also paid $17,976 in civil penalties as a repeat and willful violator of the FLSA’s wage standards.

According to a Feb. 12 release from the U. S. Department of Labor in Hawaii, after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, investigators found the employer illegally entered into agreements with workers to waive their lawful rights to earn overtime pay when they worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. By doing so, the employer paid workers at their straight-time rates, regardless of the number of hours they worked in a workweek, triggering overtime violations when those hours exceeded 40.

Previous investigations of AYD Services Inc. revealed minimum wage and overtime violations.

In other U.S. DOL news, the department is conducting a wage survey of Guam’s “building, heavy, highway and residential construction projects.”

The survey is not limited to federally funded construction projects, and covers active projects in Guam between May 1, 2019, and April 30, 2020, according to a Feb. 12 release.

“Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates should reflect the actual wages and fringe benefits paid to construction workers where the work takes place. The U.S. Department of Labor needs the full participation of the Guam construction industry community to set prevailing wage rates,” said the Wage and Hour Division’s Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez, in San Francisco, Calif. “Full participation by contractors and interested parties will allow us to provide accurate prevailing wages and to create complete wage determinations which, in turn, reduces the need for contractors to request additional classifications.” 

Notification letters and data collection forms (WD-10s) will be sent to interested parties and contractors known to the Wage and Hour Division. Data must be postmarked by Aug. 31, 2020, to be included.

 

Scam calls target Guam
HAGATNA, Guam — The Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense, the Mariana Regional Fusion Center and local telecommunication companies are closely monitoring reports of local telephone numbers receiving calls from unusual or unexpected international numbers.

The international phone numbers may begin in area code 881 or 882 and are seemingly “spoofed,” which means it is imitated or disguised to appear as a different number. The community is reminded to remain vigilant and continue to follow these tips:

Do not answer any unexpected calls from international or unusual numbers; if you have a missed call from an international or unusual number with only one ring, do not be tempted to call back; if an international or unusual number calls you with only one ring, block the number, if possible.

 Residents are advised to report any suspicious activity or social media posts relating to the subject to the MRFC online at https://mlrin.org/ or email [email protected] or call (671) 475-0400. mbj

 

Skymark makes inaugural charter to Palau

Photo courtesy of the Palau Visitors Authority

KOROR, Palau — The Skymark Airlines inaugural charter to Palau landed on the island in the early morning of Feb. 12 from Narita, flying a Boeing 737-100. The flight was welcomed by a traditional water cannon spray. Two additional charters are scheduled for February and March, with the long term aim being scheduled flights, according to the Center for Aviation. 

Skymark began charters between Saipan and Narita in August and September 2019 and daily scheduled flights on Nov. 29, 2019.

Founded in 1996 as Japan’s first low-cost carrier, Skymark is headquartered at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport and flies to 11 domestic cities with a fleet of 26 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The focus of its services to date has been the cities of Kobe, Naha, Fukuoka and Sapporo.

The company experienced a period of financial difficulties due to currency fluctuations in the early years of the decade and underwent bankruptcy proceedings in January 2015 after reporting $571 million in liabilities. After a change in management and a shift to focus on its most profitable routes, the airline has bounced back much faster than anticipated and is clearly looking to expand its operations once more.

Presently the third-largest airline in Japan — behind domestic giants All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines — Skymark has a high reputation among low cost carriers thanks to its high level of service, no charges on luggage of up to 20 kilograms and the 41-inch legroom that is available to all passengers.