3 Feb 2014

Fiji minister defends minimum wage

8:18 am on 3 February 2014

Fiji's labour minister is dismissing criticisms of the new minimum wage from trade unionists, who are saying it is too low.

The government set the country's minimum wage at US$1.05 an hour, 17 cents less than the rate recommended by an independent consultant last year.

In Fijian Dollars thats a minimum wage of $2.00, when the recommendation was for $2.32.

The secretary general of the Trade Unions Congress, Felix Anthony, says the wage is insufficient and will see some workers continue to live under the poverty line.

But the minister, Jone Usamate, says it's a raise of 50 cents an hour on what many agricultural workers are currently earning, and any more would be too expensive.

"Some of these wages at the moment are at about $1.50 an hour. So, to jump from $150 to $2.32 would be a very large jump. You don't want to make it too high or it might lead to job losses."

Jone Usamate says the minimum wage will be reviewed in a year's time.