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Fiji puts minimum hourly wage at F$ 2

The Fijian Government has introduced minimum wage plan, applicable throughout all industries and sectors, with employers obliged to follow the relevant rules from March 1, 2014.

The National Minimum wage will be F$2 per hour, affecting about 72,000 workers in the country. Non-compliance would attract fines and if prosecuted and found guilty in a court of law, prison term up to two years.

A number of organisations, including the Fiji Retailers Association, arguably one of the largest groups of employers, have been requesting the Government to determine a national minimum wage policy and this announcement has had positive response throughout the country.

Wage adjustment

Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Minister Jone Usamate said that in terms of the decision of the Government published in the official Gazette and all employers to who these are applicable, must adjust the wages of their employers and amend the conditions of employment accordingly.

“All employers must comply with the new National Minimum Wage Regulations and the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 (ERP). The minimum wage (at $F2 per hour) will cover all employers in the informal sector, including employers in the formal sector not covered under the 10 current Wages Regulations Orders (WROs),” Mr Usamate said.

According to him, the objective of this major wage policy is to alleviate poverty among the most marginalised workers in the informal and formal sectors.

“This will build a better Fiji for workers who have been disadvantaged and disregarded for a long period of time,” he said.

‘Historic Initiative’

Describing the initiative as ‘historic,’ Mr Usamate said that it was a part of the Government’s commitment under the ‘People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress’ to reduce poverty to a negligible level by 2015, simultaneously enhancing workplace and national productivity.

He cautioned employers against non-compliance.

“I suggest that all employers to have in place a productivity-based performance system. The workers rights stipulated in the National Minimum Wage Regulations are in addition to their rights under the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP), “he said.

All entitlements and fundamental principles of rights at work under the ERP are still applicable to all workers covered under the NMW Regulations. For example, workers entitlements such as annual leave, public holiday leave, maternity leave, sick leave, bereavement leave and all other benefits provided under the ERP must be fully awarded when due,”.

Listed obligations

The new regulations also oblige all employers to display the new regulations in their workplace.

Mr Usamate said that employers who fail to comply with the new rules will be obliged to pay a spot fine of $F100, and run the risk of further penalties and court action.

If convicted, defaulting employers will face fine of up to $F 20,000 and/or imprisonment up to a maximum of two years.

“As a part of our support to promote the minimum wage concept and better working conditions, the Ministry has established a ‘Wages Unit.’ We will continue to promote the principles of fundamental social justice and rights at work by enforcing various clauses of the Labour Reforms. These include decent wages and work environment, promoting dignity of labour,” Mr Usamate said.

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