The Fiji Public Service Association has defended an arbitration award giving Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, to civil servants from an attack by the Employers Federation.
The Employers' Federation chairperson, Sangeeta Niranjan, has described the COLA award as pushing the country backwards in time and allowing the slackest employees to receive increases.
She said it sends the wrong signal.
But the general secretary of the FPSA, Rajeshwar Singh, has told the Fiji Times that the 18-million US dollar award should be considered alongside the fact that 40 percent of Fiji's workers are considered as the working poor.
Mr Singh says the COLA mechanism remains an effective guarantee in the country's fight against poverty because it ensures that about 50 percent of the population is kept above the poverty line.
Mr Singh says COLA is not an automatic rise in wages but is derived from inflation rates caused by the economic activity generated by members of the Fiji Employers Federation.