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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, December 27) – The French Polynesia Economic, Social and Cultural Council (CESC) voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of proposed legislation that would provide a minimum wage hike subsidy for employers in all sectors of work.

The 37-1 vote with three abstentions was the first hurdle to be cleared by the proposed subsidy, which is making the official rounds for a second time after having been implemented a year ago only to be rescinded by the Papeete Tribunal Administratif earlier this month.

The court ruled that the Flosse Government's proposal was improperly approved by the French Polynesia Assembly a year ago as a deliberation rather than as a piece of legislation known locally as a "law of the land" ("loi de Pays). The difference is that a "law of the land" has a legal status superior to that of a deliberation, but not has not as high as a law adopted by the French Parliament in Paris.

The purpose of the current Temaru government's proposed legislation is to provide employers with financial aid so they can increase the minimum wage. That aid is to come through the French Polynesia social security and welfare system, known as the Caisse de Prévoyance Sociale (CPS), rather than directly from the government.

When the Flosse Government's measure was first adopted a year ago, it was used to finance the 15,000 French Pacific franc (US$150) increase in the minimum [monthly] wage. That wage went from 115,000 French Pacific francs (US$1,150) monthly to 125,000 French Pacific francs (US$1,250) monthly.

The CESC, which serves only as an advisory body to the government, considered that last year's proposal by then Labor Minister Jean-Christophe Bouissou and this year's proposal by the Temaru Government are basically the same.

The single negative vote cast Tuesday came from Aldo Tirao, who represents the Polynesian Youth Association. He said he was "opposed to the principle" of the measure. He voted against the measure went it was first proposed a year ago.

Wanting to increase the minimum wage when French Polynesia is "under financial perfusion is serious. I represent the youth of this land and I do not want it to live under an illusion," Tirao said.

The A Tia I Mua labor union's two representatives were the other two CESC members who abstained from voting Tuesday. Jean-Michel Garrigues said the union would prefer that the proposed legislation apply only to priority sectors, such as the hotel, construction and service sectors. Other sectors such as industries, automobile, aeronautics and retail stores could handle their own minimum wage hikes without any financial assistance.

December 29, 2005


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