CWs hoping to qualify for federal unemployment assistance

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TWO individuals employed through the CW-1 program are hoping that the CNMI government can help foreign workers avail themselves of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Unemployment Compensation programs.

Muhammad Sofil Islam, a marine sports operator, and N. Islam, an office clerk, said for almost four months now, many foreign workers have lost their jobs because of the global Covid-19 restrictions.

“It is uncertain when  businesses can resume full operations,” Muhammad Islam said. “We are also not sure if the workers who have been furloughed can return to their work.”

He said their friends from the Filipino and the Chinese communities as well as other ethnic groups are seeking assistance from the CNMI government regarding their eligibility for the federal unemployment assistance programs.

“We are urging Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and Labor Secretary Vicky I. Benavente to ask the federal government to look into the welfare of the law-abiding guest workers in the CNMI,” N. Islam said.

Muhammad Islam and N. Islam said they have been working on Saipan for many years now and “we are very supportive of the government, paying our taxes and following all laws, rules and regulations.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the livelihood of many private sector workers, they said.

“We are the breadwinners in the family and we can’t send money to our family because we have lost our jobs,” they said.

Islam said whenever disaster strikes, many foreign workers seem to be left behind in terms of financial assistance from the federal government.

“Typhoons and pandemics don’t discriminate — we’re all  humans,” he added.

According to CNMI DOL,  federal law does not explicitly state that CWs are qualified for PUA and FPUC benefits.

The department said in order to extend these federal benefits to CW-1 permit holders, U.S. congressional action is necessary.

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