National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad says the recent comments by the Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry Council of Fiji that if the minimum wage rate is increased to $4, $5 or even $10 there will be 7000 job losses is pure scare-mongering.
Prasad also alleged that they are deliberately getting into the political arena to support the Fiji First Party.
Prasad claims they have not sat down to talk with them about their proposals adding they have not discussed with NFP how they intend to support employers with Government assistance for the phasing in of the minimum living wage.
He says the council has not talked about the difference between $5 an hour – which NFP proposes – and the $10 an hour rate which another party proposes adding they are deliberately mixing up the two proposals to scare people.
Meanwhile, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry Council President Michael Towler says they are businesswomen and men; and not politicians and they seek to run their businesses profitably and pay their employees sustainable and fair wages.
Towler says that the rise in the National Minimum Wage Rate to $4, $5 or even $10 as suggested by some political parties will see the loss of 7,000 jobs in their industry and will also see the death of the industry.
Towler says their industry directly employs 7,000 Fijians, with 20,000 Fijians indirectly depending on their industry.
He says political parties did not have any consultations with them before they started telling people about the minimum wage.
He says simply put, the textile and clothing industry — the lifeblood to thousands of Fijian families — cannot survive in Fiji with these types of sudden wage increases.
Towler says that elections campaigns is not the right time to debate about the National Minimum Wage and it is reckless and dishonest to make such comments.
Towler says their employees are their best assets and some of them pay over and above the minimum wage rate.
He has also questioned political parties who are suggesting these increases, as to who will employ their 7,000 workers if their industry in Fiji disappears from this country due to unsustainable and suddenly spiked wage rates.ADVERTISEMENT Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.