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$1 an hour claim

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, January 26, 2013

THE Ministry of Labour has responded to claims that a 35-year-old bus driver in Ba has been earning $1 an hour despite the minimum wage rate of $3.16 per hour.

The victim's concerned daughter, Artika Devi, raised the issue saying this was unacceptable because her father had been receiving $1 an hour for the past five years.

"The employer has been abusing its bus drivers a lot. The boss has never paid the drivers the legislative wage rate because he classifies the bus drivers as casual employees even though they have been working as permanent drivers," Ms Devi said from Australia.

"This is done to avoid paying other compulsory legislative benefits such as sick leave and annual leave. I had complained to Ba Labour officers via letters but they have done nothing to resolve this. The Ba Labour officers come and go with no positive results."

The ministry confirmed yesterday its Ba office did not receive any complaints from Ms Devi.

"The inspections revealed that none of the workers was paid $1 an hour in any bus company. The ministry also confirms that no complaint was lodged in writing on the above case last year or previous years against the bus company," the ministry said.

From inspections, the ministry said there was one case lodged in 2004 against the same employer but the case was settled.

"There were no other complaints lodged by any person verbally or in writing with the ministry's Ba office against this employer up until now."

However, the ministry said Labour officers in Ba noted other breaches of the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP 2007) and Wage Regulations (Road Transport) Order 2012 by the same company and other bus providers.

Fiji Bus Operators Association president Richard Lal said it was illegal for bus operators to pay their drivers $1 an hour.

"This is a crime and it will not be tolerated by the association. Bus operators should provide their drivers with pay slips. It is illegal to do that (pay below the minimum wage rate) and a full investigation will be conducted," Mr Lal said.

He said association members were law abiding and something should be done to help the driver.





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