NEWS

Wage Rate Breach

“There should be no excuse for anybody saying otherwise because our team will be present to ensure these illegalities are avoided,” the minister said.
12 Aug 2022 16:22
Wage Rate Breach
Minister of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Parveen Bala

The Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations is cracking down on companies failing to comply with the new national minimum wage rate approved by Government. While making the revelation yesterday in Labasa during the lnternational Youth Day celebrations, Minister Parveen Bala also warned companies that were still not complying, to do so or face the full brunt of the law.

Mr Bala did not disclose the number of companies already identified of breaching the law. However, he said the companies identified were still paying workers below the new minimum wage rate.

Mr Bala said the ministry had set up a taskforce team, which had identified the alleged “double dippers”, and the company owners were taken to task.

All necessary steps have been implemented to ensure such cases are not repeated. The new wage rates were announced in the 2021-2022 Revised National Budget where employees, from January 2023, will receive an increment from $2.68 to $4 per hour, in four tranches.

 

The four tranches of the increment were be implemented on April 1, July 1, October 1 and January next year.

Two tranches have already been implemented where the current rate sits at $3.34 and is expected to increase to $3.67 on October 1.

Mr Bala said their monitoring team on the ground continued to check and ensure employers abide by the new minimum wage rate, and that all employees were paid accordingly.

“There should be no excuse for anybody saying otherwise because our team will be present to ensure these illegalities are avoided,” the minister said.

He also praised employers who had updated their national minimum wage rates and ensured their employees were paid the actual rates for their hard work.

 

RETAILERS

The president of the Suva Retailers Association, Jitesh Patel, said the retailers industry were ensuring that all its members were complied.

Mr Patel said they have had no reports of non-compliance yet from the retailers association in Suva. He is working members to ensure this is followed through strictly.

He has advised the retail industry across the board to comply with the law and ensure that staff members were remunerated according to law.

 

TEXTILE INDUSTRY

Mark One Apparel owner and managing director Mark Halabe said the company had to make hard decisions to ensure it was more efficient, and that they complied with the new wage rate.

“We are now reviewing our supply lines, we are doing everything we can to improve our efficiency,” he said.

“We have reduced our cost of imports as we have high inflation and freight costs are high. We are fully aware of the challenges that we have ahead of us but at the same time, to be fair to our workers, we have to pay a living wage. We have to be responsible employers.”

 

He said the challenge was that the industry was competing internationally.

“It’s certainly a challenge but we are doing everything to make it work. It’s a law and those not complying should be taken to task,” as the minister has rightly said it.

“It’s critical that we implement it.”

Attempts to get comments from the Fiji Trades Union Congress national secretary, Felix Anthony, were unsuccessful when this edition went to press.

 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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