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A-G Reiterates Rationale On Govt’s Minimum Wage

A-G Reiterates Rationale On Govt’s Minimum Wage
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the 2018-2019 Post Budget Roadshow at De Vos on the Park on August 4, 2018.
August 05
11:05 2018

Questions in regards to minimum wage were asked to the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the Post 2019-2019 National Budget Roadshow yesterday.

This was after a question was raised in regards to the $5/$4 per hour minimum wage promised by the National Federation Party and SODELPA.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the minimum wage argument had been heavily politicised.

He said when we talk about minimum wage we are talking about unskilled workers. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also said the economy should not be politicised.

“We need to ensure that if we want to improve people’s lives then we need to have continued growth,” he said.

“We are not saying you can’t have increase. Yes, you can have increase, but we should do it on a regular basis, we should do it in a concerted manner and not just pull figures out from thin air.

“There are already people on different levels of minimum wage rates. For example, if you are working as a waiter, the minimum wage is about $3.40 and not $2.68.

“If you are working as a boilermaker the minimum wage would be $5 or $6 an hour, those are different minimum wage in different types of employment or the categories of employment.

“The $2.68 is for the unskilled work and there was never any minimum wage for unskilled workers.

“The Bainimarama Government introduced the minimum wage for unskilled work in 2014 at $2 an hour,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said the review of the minimum wage rate was done and it went up to $2.32 and after another review, it went up to $2.68 an hour.

He said it should be reviewed periodically.

“You can’t simply pull out figures from thin air,” he said.

“I think NFP is saying it should be $5 an hour. Now somebody who is an unskilled person and currently getting $2.68 an hour and you put it up to $5.00 that is almost doubling it.

“What do you think the person currently being paid a minimum wage of $6.50 an hour will say?

“This person here is unqualified and getting $5 an hour and he would also want his pay to increase. Everybody will say that. It is called a spiralling effect of inflation.

“It really is a domino effect of inflation. So everything will go up. The employers will not pay extra money from their pockets for that hourly rate.

“He will pass it to the people who are buying his goods and services. We are not saying that there should not be any salary increment on an hourly basis. Yes, it needs to be done, but you need to do it in a manner that is conducive to the economy and to study everything properly.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa



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