Training unskilled labour a ‘costly exercise’

Workers in selected offices located the Nasese red zone evacuate their buildings during a tsunami drill. Picture: JESSICA SAVIKE

TRAINING unskilled labour to improve productivity has become a costly exercise for local businesses because most employers would have the added cost of training unskilled labour on top of the higher wage rate.

A press statement from the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation and Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association (FCEF and FHTA) on national minimum wage promises queried the need to increase minimum wage rate when businesses could employ highly-skilled labour from overseas, thus the recruitment of skilled labour from abroad would be considered the more economical choice for many businesses.

“We also need to take into account the social wage, this being the free bus fare, subsidies on electricity and water bills for families earning below the threshold amount,” the statement read.

It further stated that a study done by a consultant earlier this year mentioned that the social wage amounted to about $1.30/hour and this added to the minimum wage rate of $2.68/hour would equate to about $3.98 at present in real terms, which was about what some political parties were already proposing.

The FCEF and FHTA are not against the increase of the national minimum wages but are concerned about the lack of consultation with the private sector and industry leaders to better understand the business environments in the various industries and employment growth.

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