Tahiti resort to have special labour laws
The French Polynesian government is planning to declare the proposed Mahana Beach Resort a "special zone" with different labour laws than the rest of the territory.
The French Polynesian government is planning to declare the proposed Mahana Beach Resort in Tahiti a 'special zone' with different labour laws than the rest of the territory.
It will mean those working at the site will earn 20 percent below the minimum wage.
The publisher of Tahiti Pacifique magazine, Alex du Prel, has told Mary Baines the plan is receiving a mixed reaction.
ALEX DU PREL: The president wants to boost the economy. They've decided there will be an area of about 200 hectares where they are going to build, you know, a new Waikiki. And of course the investors, they say well it's going to be very difficult to something that's viable because wages and labour laws, our labour laps, cop it from France. It's too expensive, so Mr Flosse has decided he will create a duty free zone in a certain way and the people who will work there, that means construction people to build the hotels and all the facilities, the minimum wage will be 20 percent lower than it is in the rest of the territory and also for higher paying jobs than minimum wage their wage scale would be reduced by 20 percent. But he has also said that this is only the beginning.
MARY BAINES: In what way?
AP: Well we have a problem in French Polynesia. We are known for being an expensive destination. Part of this problem is that we have, compared to Fiji or Cook Islands or Vanuatu or whatever competition we have, our wages are much, much higher.
MB: So this decline in the minimum wage being proposed, how is it being received by potential workers and the public?
AP: Well right now we are just starting. One of the many unions we have has been saying this is not acceptable, while on the other side the federation of construction bosses and everything, they say well it's a good idea but let's put it throughout French Polynesia, not only the zone. So this is where we stand right now. The debate is just starting.
MB: So what's the minimum wage in French Polynesia now?
AP: Right now it is 150,000 francs a month, which amounts to about 1,600 New Zealand dollars a month.
MB: Comparing that to the cost of living, is that enough for people to get by?
AP: Actually, no. The problem is if they would pay those wages in the duty free area and there were shops where people could buy duty free food and clothing then it might be viable. But, no, I think people will not accept it.
MB: Is there quite a high unemployment rate?
AP: Yes, as Mr Flosse said himself during the press conference. Over 50 percent of the young people who are in working age are jobless. In all age groups it is 30 percent. We don't have a doll, we don't have any unemployment benefits whatsoever like that.
MB: So is this Mahana Beach resort being floated as solution to unemployment?
AP: No, no. Well basically what is amounts to is that we've lost our main resource which used to be the nuclear test. We need to create a new resource that will feed the economy. Mr Flosse bets on tourism.
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