24 October 2014

3,800 protesters surrounding OPG buildings say no to new US air base construction

On October 9, citizen groups formed a human chain around the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) buildings in Naha to demonstrated their united opposition to the construction of a new US Marine air base in Henoko, Nago, to replace the Futenma base in Ginowan. 

According to the organizers, about 3,800 people gathered and voiced their plans to stop the relocation of the Futenma base within Okinawa. The participants requested that the OPG reject an application submitted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau to change the method used for landfill, which is part of the planned base construction in Henoko.

This was the third rally opposing the base’s construction since July 1, when demolition of existing buildings started in Camp Schwab. Citizens, including parents and children, took part in the lunchtime rally. There were also some participants from abroad. Citizen group members, who continue to protest against the new base in Henoko and US military helipad construction underway in Takae, Higashi, joined in the rally.

The participants held blue signboards bearing messages, “No to a new base in Henoko” and “We will not surrender”. They chanted, “Stop the landfill for the sake of children,” and “Stop the new base and fight for the future.” They created a human “peace wave”.

Ashitomi Hiroshi, co-representative of the Helicopter Base Objection Association, said in his speech, “Our strike against the Henoko relocation will end in our victory. We will continue to fight at the scene. I would like everyone who lives in Naha, and central and southern parts of the island to fight together to win the victory.”

Rie Ishihara, a member of the group protesting against the construction of US helipad in Takae, stated in her speech, “The sea in Henoko and the forest of Yambaru are the treasures of Okinawa. Let’s protect the treasures of the islands and the future of children.”

Representatives of the four opposition parties of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly made speeches.

(English translation by T&CT)

Guam public sector employees receive retroactive pay

More Than 2,000 GovGuam Workers Receive Retroactive Pay Raise

Delay in payments, totaling $2 million, was due to cash flow problems

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

 A total of 2,150 government of Guam executive branch employees are expected to receive money today for eight months worth of retroactive pay raises, Gov. Eddie Calvo's office announced yesterday.

"Today, General Pay Plan employees will get their full salary increase," the governor further states in his column in today's Pacific Daily News. "It is a retroactive payment covering the period from February 2014 to Sept. 30."

The checks were printed yesterday and total $2 million, according to the governor's office.

The amount of the checks ranges from as low as $5, due to termination of service in February, to $5,500, the governor's office stated.

The average amount of the check is $500, the governor's office stated.

The pay raises being paid today for General Pay Plan employees are about one-third of the more than 6,000 GovGuam employees and supervisors whose pay raises were authorized in a 2011 law.

The General Pay Plan category doesn't include nurses, law enforcement personnel and educators, whose pay-raise classifications fall under a different category.

GovGuam pay raises weren't immediately implemented because GovGuam was short of funds to do so.

"I'd like to thank you for your patience," the governor's column states. "It allowed me to address other financial issues that, without your hard work, probably wouldn't have been done."

The Guam Department of Education's non-teaching employees still haven't been paid their pay raises under the same law. As of yesterday afternoon, DOE received word that today's payments won't include non-teaching DOE employees, said DOE Deputy Superintendent for Finance Taling Taitano.