The Ministry of Employment has proposed a new minimum wage rate of $2.68 from the current $2.32 minimum wage. This has been highlighted by the consultant Professor Partha Gangopadhyay who is heading the review of the National Minimum Wage and Wages Regulations Consultations.
Gangopadhyay says a well-functioning labour market is the key to future progress and prosperity in Fiji. He adds an incorrect minimum wage can seriously backfire on the very people which the minimum wage is meant to protect.
Permanent Secretary for Employment Salaseini Daunabuna with Professor Gangopadhyay conducted a question and answer session with members of the public present at the consultation at Devos At the Park. Trade Unionist Agni Deo Singh asked for an audience with Professor Gangopadhyay to show the reality of what is actually happening that would help him determine some of the findings that would determine the outcome of the process.
He also questioned the relevance of the process because of the short time frame given for public consultations and claimed that the government has already determined the outcome. Professor Gangopadhyay says he would surely change some of the outcomes after getting the facts and evidence.
Another participant questioned the enforcement agency within the ministry on compliance to certain conditions by some manufacturing companies on paying meal allowances, time and a half and double time to workers that work over 12 hours. The Permanent Secretary says they will take employers that do not comply with the regulations to task and will look further into this issue.
Others asked for the minimum wage to be raised to $4, development programs to up skill the unskilled workers in order to increase wages from the minimum wage level, and if consultations have been done throughout the country. Daunabuna says she will look into the issues raised with the ministry.
The Ministry of Employment will conduct the last two rounds of consultations in Labasa tomorrow and in Savusavu on Friday before the recommendations are presented to Parliament. Members of the public have been urged to make submissions before the end of this week to the Ministry of Employment office.
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