Fiji Labour Ministry Launches Minimum Wage Survey

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National survey to cover all economic sectors

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 7, 2013) – A total of 17,331 workers will be interviewed within a month's time as Fiji’s Ministry of Labour began with the country's first national minimum wage baseline survey yesterday.

Minister Jone Usamate said the findings of the survey would result in the determination and introduction of a national minimum wage, the hourly rate below which all sectoral minimum wage rates must not be allowed to fall.

He said the exercise was conducted in partnership with academic Dr. Mahendra Reddy of Fiji National University (FNU).

He said it would cover all sectors of the economy, including organizations covered under the existing 10 sectors under the Wages Regulations Orders and also those involving individual bargaining between employers and workers.

"The survey will assess existing wage levels in Fiji's labor market, including conditions of employment in the context of the requirements under the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 (ERP) and the 10 current Wages Regulation against the backdrop of the economy," Mr. Usamate said.

He said a framework would also be developed to periodically review the national minimum wage based on the agreed social and economic factors provided for in the International Labour Organization's (ILO) 1970 Minimum Wage Fixing Convention and its Minimum Wage Fixing Recommendation 135.

"The first national minimum wage set will be used as the benchmark or reference point from which future possible adjustments will be made."

The ministry confirmed that throughout the country, there were around 6,706 enterprises with 171,865 workers.

Out of these enterprises, 4,065 are covered under the Wages Regulation Orders and 2,641 are enterprises where workers are employed through individual bargaining.

"For the purpose of the survey, a 10 percent sample was randomly selected resulting in the selection of 17,331 workers to be interviewed from within 2,617 enterprises inclusive of micro, small, medium and large organizations in the survey."

The survey will be conducted in a targeted timeline of one month by the ministry officers and 88 volunteers recruited from the National Employment Centre (NEC) database, capitalizing on the government's employment creation initiative to add value to the lives of those unemployed.

The survey ends at the end of the month.

[PIR editor's note: Earlier in the week, Australian and New Zealand trade unions launched a joint campaign urging tourists heading to Fiji support local workers' rights. Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney says that at least 60 percent of wage earners in Fiji are currently living below the poverty line.]

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