31 Jan 2014

Fiji wage campaigner disappointed in minimum wage

4:27 pm on 31 January 2014

The former chair of the Fiji Wages Council is disappointed in the country's new minimum wage, saying it will not bring poor workers above the poverty line.

Fiji's labour ministry has set the country's minimum wage at US$1.05 an hour, 17 cents less than the rate recommended by an independent consultant last year.

A wage campaigner, Father Kevin Barr, says that will bring the minimum weekly wage to US$47.50 a week, less than half of the poverty line threshold of US$98.80.

Kevin Barr says he doesn't buy the government's argument that businesses in Fiji can't afford to pay any more.

"That's an argument that has been brought up for a long time against all wage increases by the employers federations. Many of them are protecting their own interests, not the interests of small business, as an excuse for wanting wages to be kept low."

Kevin Barr says the minimum wage will help domestic workers, such as baby-sitters and gardeners, but it's not enough and Fiji needs to address poverty.