14 Oct 2013

Fiji advocate says proposed minimum wage better than nothing

4:44 pm on 14 October 2013

The former Wages Council chairman in Fiji, Father Kevin Barr, says although the proposed minimum wage is better than nothing, it still falls well short of a living wage.

The governments national minimum wage consultant, Dr Mahendra Reddy, has recommended the minimum rate be set at $2 dollars 32 cents Fijian an hour.

Father Kevin Barr says some of the information Mr Reddy based his recommendation on is five years old, and since then the levels of poverty and disadvantage have increased considerably.

He says he would like to see the minimum wage around the 4 dollar mark, but he says the minimum wage proposed is still a big increase for a number of workers.

"Too many people have fallen way behind, for example even those in the garment industry, security workers, domestic workers, gardeners, all those groups of people will all receive a much better wage if this minimum wage is brought in. You know around the four dollar, four dollar twenty would be ideal, but maybe we've got to also get there gradually, I accept that."

Kevin Barr says if people are going to be kept out of poverty their wages need to reflect this.