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Barr lauds wage rate

Nasik Swami
Thursday, February 06, 2014

THE government's announcement to set the country's minimum wage rate at $2 per hour is laudable.

This was the sentiment of former wages council chairman and poverty alleviation advocate Fr Kevin Barr.

In a statement, Father Barr said the new rate would cover about 20 per cent of Fiji's working population, those not covered by unions or wages councils.

He said the $2 per hour rate would benefit domestic workers, gardeners and farmers.

However, he suggested that the national minimum wage should be measured against the national poverty line which would be around $190 a week.

"This would mean that the national minimum wage should be around $4 to $4.20 an hour," he said.

"The initial proposal of Dr Mahend Reddy was that the rate would be $2.32 and would be adjusted each year.

"This was not ideal or adequate but it was a good start."

Labour Minister Jone Usamate, while announcing the new rate last week, said it was a milestone achievement in the history of Fiji as it was the first ever determination of a national minimum wage covering both the formal and informal sectors.

He said it was an hourly rate below which all sectoral wage rates must not be allowed to fall.