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Bala says over 96% workers earn over $2.68/hour while Anthony believes the wage rate is low

Bala says over 96% workers earn over $2.68/hour while Anthony believes the wage rate is low

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 20/02/2020

Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala says a comprehensive review of the 2017 national minimum wage rate has revealed that over 96 percent of the Fijian workers currently earn above the minimum wage rate of $2.68 while the Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary, Felix Anthony says the minimum wage rate is set at an unrealistic low level.

While delivering his ministerial statement in parliament today, Bala says 65 percent of the workers in the informal sector are earning above $2.90 an hour and about 31 percent of the workers are already earning a wage rate of $4 an hour in Fiji.

Bala says as part of the national minimum wage rate review process, a consultant will be presenting the 2019 national minimum wage rate review report next month after which it will be taken through their tripartite mechanism, the Employment Relations Advisory Board and then to the Cabinet.

Bala says a national minimum wage rate must ensure that vulnerable employees are not exploited to provide decent wages and that set minimum wages do not discourage productivity and competition for employers.  

He says this is the balancing act at the heart of the process of fixing and applying a just minimum wage for all parties and this is what the opposition parties do not bring into their calculations when it comes to the minimum wage.  

Meanwhile, Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary, Felix Anthony says Bala should give some statistics on the poverty line and how many workers live below the poverty line.

The FijiFirst government had set a national minimum wage rate of $2 an hour which came into force in March, 2014 and according to Bala, this benefited an estimated 100,000 Fijian workers who prior to the introduction of the national minimum wage rate were paid between 70 cents to $1 an hour.

Bala says this was reviewed and a national minimum wage rate of  $2.32 came into force from July 2015.

The national minimum wage rate was again reviewed in 2017 and was increased to $2.68 in September 2017.

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