13 Feb 2003

Fiji Peacekeepers Association calls for review of military pay structure

11:23 am on 13 February 2003

The Fiji Peacekeepers Association has asked the government to review the pay structure of the military.

The Fiji Times quotes the association's secretary, Taniela Senikuta, as saying a pay increase is due especially for ranks below that of sergeant.

Mr Senikuta says after all deductions, the salaries of privates and corporals falls below the poverty line.

He says this is unfortunate when the lower ranks form the bulk of any military establishment and the government has just increased Value Added Tax on all goods and services.

The demand comes just as the givernment has embarked on a job restructuring to cut up to 2 thousand jobs a year from the public service and has refused to renew the contracts of more than 200 teachers as part of the cost cutting measures.

The military spokesman, Warrant Officer Neumi Leweni, says it is false to claim that the pay of lower ranks falls below the poverty line.

Relations between the army and the Peacekeepers Association have been tense since last year when the Association circulated a petition among regular soldiers seeking the removal of the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.