TRADE UNION SAYS MOST PEOPLE IN PNG LIVE BELOW POVERTY LINE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 7, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat/PIDP/CPIS)---The PNG Trade Union Congress said it fully supports the call by the country's Consumers Affairs Council for a wage assessment.

The council last week called for a meeting of the Minimum Wages Board to look into the impact on consumers of the consumer price index, which increased by 18% last year.

The base salary for union members is controlled by the Minimum Wages Board.

Papua New Guinea's Trade Union Congress said the majority of people in the country are living below the poverty line, and calls on the government to address the situation immediately.

"We’ve been talking about the price increases and nothing has been done about it," said the union’s Vice President Albert Evald. "I think the last time the Minimum Wages Board met was five years ago. All the companies using the Minimum Wages’ determination are about six years old."

Union officials are calling on the board to adopt a pay increase that is in line with the CPA. He said the government’s recent increase in the value added tax has been a burden on union workers because their wages were not adjusted to compensate for the increase.

Evald said union officials will call a meeting this month with union affiliates to discuss the issue of pay increases.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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