TFC Council: 7000 Jobs In Danger

7000 jobs will be lost overnight if the National Minimum Wage increases to $4 or $5 per hour or up to $10 per hour, says a worried Textile Clothing and
24 Oct 2018 12:38
TFC Council: 7000 Jobs In Danger
The textile clothing and footwear industry employs many Fijians. File Photo

7000 jobs will be lost overnight if the National Minimum Wage increases to $4 or $5 per hour or up to $10 per hour, says a worried Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry Council.

The current minimum wage is $2.68 per hour. Michael Towler, president of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry Council of Fiji (TCF), in a statement yesterday, said they were alarmed about recent comments made by various political parties calling for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to be increased to $4 or $5 per hour and even up to $10 per hour.

The National Federation Party (NFP) has been amongst the most vocal advocates on this. It says it would raise the minimum wage to $5.

“We want to be abundantly clear that promising unreasonable, sudden hikes to the minimum wage without any proper due diligence breeds false hope, it is dangerous, and it is wrong,” Mr Towler said.

“Our industry directly employs 7000 Fijians, and the indirect impact is even higher when extended to our employees’ households – approximately 20,000 Fijian men, women and children depend on our industry for their daily needs. 7000 jobs will be lost in our industry overnight.”

To the political parties who are suggesting these “irresponsible, job-destroying increases”, Mr Towler asks: “Who will employ our 7000 workers (most of them women) if the TCF industry in Fiji disappears from this country due to unsustainable, suddenly-spiked wage rates?

“Who will replace the $100 million of foreign exchange that the industry brings into the economy?

“Who will advise our workers, some who have been employed in our industry for 30-plus years, that their jobs no longer exist?

“That, despite their talents and experience honed over decades, that they face unemployment due to no fault of their own?”

Mr Towler further said an immediate increase to $5 would equate to a further increase of 87 per cent, describing it as an ill-considered and haphazard increase that when done suddenly and not progressively, would prove unsustainable for our Industry.

“We employ staff at varying wage levels, and a sudden increase in wage rates would send a price shock throughout the entire industry, putting staff at all levels out of their jobs,” he said.

“Simply put, the textile and clothing industry – the lifeblood to thousands of Fijian families – cannot survive in Fiji with these type of sudden wage increases.”

He said members of the TCF Council welcomed a progressive national assessment that would gradually and responsibly raise wages in line with the country’s growing economy after careful consideration.

“We have always participated in the process of discussing this issue in numerous public forums, and we support the current, responsible process that has set the current NMW rates,” Mr Towler said.

“We are businesswomen and men; we are not politicians.

“We seek to run our businesses profitably and pay our employees sustainable and fair wages. We will always support the democratic process in Fiji.

“That’s why, during this election season, we call on all political parties to be responsible and seek a dialogue with us and the other representative Industry Councils and Worker Representatives in determining the appropriate mechanism in setting the National Minimum Wage.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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