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Fiji Time: 6:29 PM on Thursday 24 April

/ Front page / Business

Alarm over wages

Ropate Valemei
Thursday, January 31, 2013

FIVE bus companies in Ba are under the radar of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment following complaints that it breached provisions in the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 and Wage Regulations (Road Transport) Order 2012.

And the ministry has issued a stern advice that it would take tough action against employers who exploit workers.

The ministry began an investigation into the alleged offences after a concerned family member raised the issue of her father earning $1 an hour as a bus driver, a rate three times less than the minimum wage rate of $3.16 per hour.

"Ba Labour officers also noted various breaches of the ERP 2007 and Wage Regulations (Road Transport) Order 2012 by the companies," the ministry confirmed.

"These breaches include workers being paid according to the 2011 Wage Regulations Order and not the Wage Regulations (Road Transport) Order 2012 which became effective on October 31 last year, non-payment of workers' entitlements such as annual leave, sick leave, bereavement leave, public holiday and overtime pay."

The ministry said it was in the process of calculating wage arrears owed to the workers by the companies. The final figures would be submitted to the bus companies who were expected to "pay off" its workers, the ministry said, noting it would also issue fixed penalty notices for those breaches.

"If the arrears of wages and charges by the ministry are not paid off by the ministry-given deadline, the employer will be taken for prosecution," the ministry said.

The ministry said meetings would also be conducted with employers to ensure compliance of labour laws.

Fiji Bus Operators Association vice president Virendra Kewal said all bus operators must adhere to the law.

"The law is law and no one should break it. All bus operators should abide by the law," he said.

He said if bus operators breached the law then they would have to face the consequences. Mr Kewal advised operators to conduct business legally.