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Wages issue

Vijay Naidu,Raiwai, Suva
Saturday, December 02, 2017

Father Kevin Barr has, over many years, advocated for just wages and social justice.

In his work with the poorest of the poor in informal settlements, he has seen and heard the voices of those who are seriously disadvantaged.

As he has pointed out in the two articles published by The Fiji Times on 28 and 29 November, the situation of the poor who are mostly wage employees is a product of the "trickle down" economic policies of successive governments, which are heavily biased towards employers.

I believe in recent years, regressive taxation (VAT), devaluation of the Fijian dollar and imported inflation have all made the lives of the poor more difficult.

Thank you very much, Father Barr. The irony is that the first article appeared on the very day that The Fiji Times had a news item, captioned 'A-G highlights socioeconomic rights'.

As Father Barr points out, a fundamental dimension of these rights are fair wages and though government has implemented a number of laudable policies such as fee-free schooling, free bus fare, increases in poverty benefit scheme, and squatter upgrading, these are not substitute to just wages.

Human dignity is enhanced by fair returns to labour, and not by handouts.

I believe it is incumbent on the Minister of Economy to address issues raised by Father Barr if he is serious about the niceties of having social, economic and cultural rights in the 2013 Republic of Fiji Constitution.

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