THE implementation of the national minimum wage rate yesterday has been welcomed by workers and employer representatives.
Fiji Trade Union Congress assistant national secretary Rajeshwar Singh said they were pleased with the wage increases in the nine different sectors of the economy ranging from a minimum of 20 cents to the maximum of 50 cents.
Mr Singh said the new basic wage rate in the garment industry, apart from the trainees, is around $1.36 per hour.
"In other sectors, the new basic rates for unskilled workers range from $1.65 to $2.08 per hour. The skilled wage rate ranges from $1.84 in hotel and catering to $2.57 in mining and quarrying," he added.
Fiji Island Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Attar Singh said the wage regulation orders means all the of the country's 146,000-plus wage earners should be getting $172 to $175 a week.
Fiji Emplo-yers Federation president Ken Roberts said this was not about how much the minimum wage rate was increased to but why there was a delay.
Rajeshwar, who is also the general secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, said any further delay would have prolonged the miseries suffered by low-income earners.
He said the issue was poverty and one way of improving life is to increase the national minimum wage rate.
The 1997 Fiji Poverty Report indicated that 83 per cent of the population are employed yet they are poor because the wages they receive are so low.