Hourly wage rates being reviewed to determine National Minimum Wage and 10 Sectoral Wages

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The Fijian Government is now undertaking a comprehensive review of hourly wage rates with the aim of determining wide-reaching pay rises, including in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and across Fiji’s 10 sectoral wages that already stand above the NMW: printing trades; wholesale & retail trades; hotel & catering trades; garment industry; sawmilling & logging industry; road transport, building & civil & electrical engineering trades; manufacturing industry; mining & quarrying industry; and security services.

The review was first announced in the 2018-2019 National Budget address by the Hon. Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

“This is far more than just a review of the National Minimum Wage; after this review is completed, tens of thousands of Fijians earning hourly rates will stand to benefit from new wage rises. Whether you are a bus driver or a garment worker, waitress or a construction worker, or any Fijian earning a set hourly wage in this country, you are part of the engine that drives the Fijian economy, and you deserve a fair and responsible review of your wage rate. That is what we’re delivering. This review will both help determine the next rise in hourly wages, and ensure that our major industries remain a stable and growing source of employment for the Fijian people,” said Sayed-Khaiyum. “We aren’t making any promises we aren’t prepared to keep –– that is unfair to the Fijian worker and can destroy entire industries and the thousands of jobs they provide, and new hiring would grind to a halt. For the economy to continue its record growth, we need to both sustain existing jobs and create new ones. Simply put, wage rates cannot be pulled from thin air; it takes sophisticated economic analysis, and that is why we’re embarking on this wide-ranging and thorough national review.”

The Attorney-General stressed that the vast majority of Fijians earning hourly wages have been excluded from discourse among Fijian politicians, but that Government was focused on wage rises across the board, from the NMW throughout all of the ten sectoral wages.

“The historic wage rises we’ve already implemented over the past four years reflect our nation’s booming economic growth,” added the Attorney-General. “And these rises only tell half the story: When it comes to the cost of living, Fijian workers are getting more out of every dollar. Today’s ‘social wages’ are unprecedented, covering many things that our low-income families no longer have to worry about spending their hard-earned money on, from welfare assistance to free education to Government-subsidised bus fares, water, electricity and more.”

Government will be using international experts to oversee the review, which will include nationwide consultations with both workers and employers, as well as input from the International Labour Organization. The 10 sectoral wages will each be examined separately to determine their respective rises. The review will be led by Parveen Bala, the newly-appointed Minister for Employment, Productivity & Industrial Relations.

“Fiji has a complex and diverse economy, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to the minimum wage. While it may be easier to throw big, round numbers at the wall and see what sticks, that’s incredibly irresponsible when so many jobs are on the line. As announced by the Honourable Minister for Economy in the 2018-19 National Budget, Government will now conduct yet another study to responsibly raise wages and build upon our record economic growth, not derail it,” said Bala. “We need to get this right. That’s why we’ll be working hand-in-hand with international experts who can give a clear and objective analysis of where each of these rates, including the 10 sectoral wages that are already higher than the NMW, should be set.”

The Ministry for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations will soon announce the relevant details for the nationwide consultation process and encourages employees and employers to work closely with the Ministry ensure that the review is as inclusive, fair and informed as possible.

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