Vanuatu Minimum wage Increased 15 Percent

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First increase since 2008 to be followed by regular reviews of rate

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 20, 2012) – The Minister of Internal Affairs, George Wells, yesterday signed the instrument to increase the country’s minimum to Vt30,000 [US$323.45] a month from Vt26,000 [$US280.32], which was set in 2008.

Mr Wells put pen to paper after accepting the new proposal for the increase submitted by the Labor Tripartite Council (LTC). The report of the LTC was presented by its Chairman, Commissioner of Labor Lionel Kaluat. The report spelt out the criteria, reasons, data used and other determinants required for coming up with this new figure.

On July 27, the LTC which has 3 members each from the workers, employers and the government met with the minister and proposed a figure of Vt29,000. This figure was based on what the LTC considered as a fair level of increase for both workers and employers. However, Wells rejected the proposal saying that the figure would still not be enough, especially for workers in Port Vila, to live on when there was an increasing number of people going without three meals a day.

Reporting to the Minister on behalf of the Council, Mr Kaluat said the LTC this time round utilized Section 7(3) of the Minimum Wage Act, CAP 182 to consider the needs of workers and their families, the general level of employment in the country, public submissions, the Cost Price Index, and other data to determine and come up with the new proposal of Vt30,000. This Mr. Kaluat said can still be considered as a fair level of increase for everyone considering job security and other such factors. Most importantly this time, an hourly rate of VT170 [US$1.83] is stressed in this new instrument which will allow both employers and employees to have a fair idea of how much a worker is to be paid for work done.

In addition to the new minimum wage instrument, the minister signed the appointment of wage inspectors including the Commissioner of Labor who will have the responsibility to visit companies to enforce this Vt170 hourly rate and the new Vt30,000 monthly minimum wage level.

Mr Kaluat said that following the decision of the Minister of Internal Affairs to approve this new Minimum Wage, the Labor Tripartite Council will now be considering a yearly or biannual minimum wage increase starting next year.

Mr Wells said he was happy with the work of the LTC and added that this increase will particularly benefit 80 per cent of the country’s workers who were expecting to hear this positive outcome. The instrument will next go to the State Law Office to be gazette before it comes into force.

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