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Gov’t 4th annual Workforce Day celebration ends happily for ASG workforce

Representing the many, a government employee performed a Samoan dance during the ASG 4th Annual Workforce Day, last Friday, at the Veterans Memorial Stadium. The event honors all workers in American Samoa — public and private sector. [photo: AF]
ASG employees’ paper pay checks distributed

American Samoa’s workforce — both in public and private sector — were honored last Friday during the ASG 4th annual Workforce Day celebration at Veterans Memorial Stadium, where a moment of silence was observed for those workers who have passed away since the last celebration and also to honor government employees who have served 50 years or more in government service.

And it was a very happy day for ASG workforce — especially for those who receive ‘paper’ pay checks. Yesterday, Monday, was a local and federal holiday — Labor Day — and therefore, ASG got paid Friday, with paper pay checks distributed after the ceremony.

For ASG employees with direct deposit, they received theirs in their bank accounts early Saturday morning, crowding the ATMs machines island-wide.

American Samoa Chamber of Commerce President Francine Gaisoa and Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga delivered keynote addresses, with special remarks offered by Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie; Tuafaleloa Fanolua, an apprentice with the Governor’s Office Apprenticeship Program; and Congresswoman Aumua Amata. (See Samoa News online Sunday on their special remarks.)

In her speech, Gaisoa noted the importance of last Friday to honor the territory’s workforce, “because if workers are happy it will benefit the government, families and the entire territory.”

It’s not an easy task, she said, being head of the Chamber but she always shows respect (fa’aaloalo), which goes along with the theme of the celebration, “We Do Better Together”.

“Because without respect, it will be difficult for employees to work together, companies to work together. And without respect it will be difficult for the private sector to work with the public sector,” she said.

“So respect for God is first, respect for yourself, respect for each other, respect for everyone and everything — that’s the key to doing better together,” Gaisoa said and reminded the audience that the Chamber “is the voice of each private sector business” no matter if the business is a small one or big company, a taxi operator or a farmer.

“The mission of the Chamber [is] to encourage growth in business that will result in the growth of the territory’s economy. Because a strong private sector, means a strong government and the territory as a whole,” she said.

The Chamber president also noted that the government might lower the corporate tax rate.

Gaisoa thanked the government and the different agencies that have collaborated with the Chamber throughout this year. She acknowledged the collaborative effort and support of Commerce Director Keniseli Lafaele who “has been so helpful with the Chamber” providing files and statistics as well as meetings and discussions on a number of issues such as tourism and taxes.

“The fact still remains we’re just getting started. We still have lots of work to do together and I know we will,” she said and reiterated her thanks to the government for their support because the “ultimate goal is to build up our economy.”

“All we ask is to continue to open your doors to us, continuing to allow us to come to you to seek assistance, and continue working together with the Chamber because at the end of the day, we need you, but you also need us — because, we do better together,” Gaisoa said.

In closing she extend appreciation to the local workforce, saying, “You are the reason why this economy exists. You are the reason why we continue to operate — public and private sector. Thank your for your hard work. Thank you for your service.”

In his speech, the governor said Workforce Day is a “very important day to all of us, who are providing service to our people.” The governor cited this is one of the purposes for honoring the local workforce.

“Number one is to acknowledge every employee providing service to our people, whether you are a construction worker, a nurse, a school teacher, a Fono leader or even the lieutenant governor, we all exist to serve our people,” said Lolo.

“We have to remember that’s why we have jobs. That’s why we have government services available, to make sure that we provide the service that our people needs and deserves,” he said. “Anything less would be something that our people would not expect. So the expectation is for us to provide the best services that we can with what we have.”

The governor also thanked the private sector for their annual participation in the celebration “because it’s the workforce that helps the community.”

Lolo also acknowledged American Samoa’s sons and daughters serving in the US Armed Forces saying that, “you will never be forgotten for your service.”

As part of the annual ceremony, names of those who passed away since the last ASG Workforce Day were read followed by a moment of silence. This year, more than 30 from both public and private sector had their names read out by the Master of Ceremonies, Le’i Sonny Thompson.

Announcing the names of ASG’s workforce who have served in the government for 50 years or more followed. This year, seven names were read. Some of the recipients worked in the executive branch and now at the Fono, which includes Secretary of Senate Leo’o Va’a Ma’o and Sens. Galeai Tuufuli, Gaea Perefoti Failautusi  and Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono.

The longest serving government employee is James Taylor with 60 years and is currently still an employee at ASTCA