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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Jan. 7) – The head of Tahiti's General Commerce Federation has advised its members not to pay their employees the scheduled Jan. 1 monthly salary increase backed by the Temaru government.

If the federation's members accept the advice from its leader, Gilles Yau, that could mean some 9,000 salaried employees will not be getting a 6,000 French Pacific franc (US$63) monthly pay raise for January.

Yau told Tahitipresse Friday that only businesses that signed changes to their collective bargaining agreements last month are obligated to integrate the 6,000 French Pacific franc bonus into their salary scales. The others have two possibilities, he said.

They must await the outcome of an appeal of local legislation adopted last month by the French Polynesia Assembly as part of its social reform program included in its 2006 government budget. That appeal before the Council of State in Paris could take as long as three months. Or, Yau said, they must await approval by the Temaru government's Council of Ministers for an extension of inter-professional agreements.

Yau's recommendation not to apply the salary bonus was contained in a letter he sent out Friday to the federation's members, telling them they were not obliged to pay it even though it is part of the government's solidarity reform.

Representatives of employer groups and labor unions signed an agreement on Dec. 20 granting the pay hike as of Jan. 1 for all salaried employees throughout French Polynesia—from the richest to the poorest. However, Yau, as head of the business federation, was not present for the signing.

Thus, the agreement does not apply to the commerce sector, and no business in that sector must pay the salary hike to its employees unless there is an internal agreement within a business, Yau said.

That was confirmed by Felix Bernardino, CEO of the Brasserie du Pacifique, a big local importer, and one of the most important members of the federation. "There will be no internal agreement for our business," he said. "We negotiate through the FGC (federation) and we follow its recommendations. We will simply verify the legal validity of Gilles Yau's arguments," Bernardino told Tahitipresse.

January 9, 2006

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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