18 Jul 2006

More than half Fiji's labour force paid wages below the poverty line

8:44 am on 18 July 2006

Fiji's vice president says the low wage structure in the country is a long term threat to its peace and stability.

Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi made the comment when launching the book JUST WAGES FOR FIJI which found that real wages have not risen over the past 30 years.

It also found that 55% of currently employed workers earn wages that are below the poverty line.

Ratu Joni says a significant factor which has contributed to the present level of hardship in Fiji is the failure of the government-appointed Wages Councils to maintain the value of wages.

Ratu Joni says the Wages Councils have operated largely on what the employers want and have not taken into account who they are supposed to represent.

Ratu Joni says the reluctance of employers to provide details of their financial accounts on grounds of confidentiality and the need to maintain relativity have been used as justification to minimize wages.

He says profits earned without fair remuneration to wage earners is counterproductive.

The book "JUST LIVING WAGES FOR FIJI" has been written by Dr Wadan Narsey of the USP and sponsored by the Catholic Church NGO, the Ecumenical Council for Research and Advocacy (ECREA).