HOPE’s $10/Hour Proposal ‘Irresponsible’: Hazelman

The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation says that having a minimum wage of $10 an hour is an “irresponsible” proposal as it would become unsustainable for Fiji’s economy. Federation chief
23 Aug 2018 10:29
HOPE’s $10/Hour Proposal ‘Irresponsible’: Hazelman
HOPE party's president Roko Tupou Draunidalo

The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation says that having a minimum wage of $10 an hour is an “irresponsible” proposal as it would become unsustainable for Fiji’s economy.

Federation chief executive officer Nesbitt Hazelman was commenting on the announcement by the newly-registered HOPE Party that they will implement a $10 an hour minimum wage, sector by sector, if the party is elected to Government.

HOPE Party president Tupou Draunidalo revealed this to the Fiji Sun on Tuesday while speaking on the party’s policies for the 2018 General Election.

She said the details of how they would finance the policy and what they would do to be able to get the money are all stated in their party’s manifesto which would be released after the Government and other political parties have revealed theirs.


Mr Hazelman said while political parties make all sorts of promises, at the end of the day, it is the ability of the business or employer to pay.

He called on politicians to be reasonable and considerate.

He said Fiji needs an economy that not only protects, but allows small businesses and medium-size businesses, and micro-businesses to operate and if we want to allow them to operate then there was no way they would be able to pay that sort of amount.

“We need to think of the small business people, the corner shops, those who operate in the informal sector, as parents and people who run a home, if you are going to work, would you be able to afford a housemaid at $10 an hour?” Mr Hazelman said.

He questioned the motive behind the proposed policy and those behind creating it.

He said that those deciding on such an amount as minimum wage clearly shows that they haven’t run a business to understand what was happening in the economy.

“Because what normally happens is that all these costs are passed on. If there is a rising cost of doing business, where they are able to, they will pass on to the consumers and what will happen they will drive inflation up, that’s simple economics.”

Mr Hazelman said Fiji is a developing nation and people and businesses have to live within their means.

He added that any political promise is possible, but at the end of the day, it is the private sector and the employers who will have to pay.

Those who cannot pay will shut down and eventually people will lose their jobs, Mr Hazelman said.

“Are we trying to create jobs or are we trying to have an economy that will drive unemployment up?

“We have to think very carefully when we start to talk about minimum wage. These are not just minimum wage. These are for workers who are just entering the workforce without any skill whatsoever.”

He gave an example with the building industry.

With the shortage of labour in Suva, the rate for labor is now $7 an hour.

“Those who have got a diploma or a trade certificate in a particular trade they already get higher than the $2.68 prescribed.

“These are all market forces that drive prices up, but to put $10 without any sort of backing or research done, I think it is irresponsible,” Mr Hazelman added.

He said at the end of the day, they were trying to create an economy that employs all graduates and school leavers, also promote business growth and create an investment environment that drives investors to set up their businesses in Fiji.

As a result, people will be employed and more money will be shared around the economy.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra


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