Our Min­i­mum Wage, Un­skilled Work­ers And The In­for­mal Sec­tor

Fiji Sun - - Comment - RACHNA LAL Feed­back: rach­nal@fi­jisun.com.fj

We al­ways tend to fo­cus on the for­mal sec­tor of em­ploy­ment. There are so many peo­ple in Fiji who are not part of the for­mal sec­tor

Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum At­tor­ney Gen­eral I hope this years Di­wali will bring joy and pros­per­ity in ev­ery­ones life. Rachelle Hooker Westpac Fiji gen­eral man­ager’s wife

The min­i­mum wage of $2.32 per hour has been mis­in­ter­preted many times since its in­tro­duc­tion. And it is ob­vi­ous there are many who aren’t able to dif­fer­en­ti­ate that the $2.32 per hour min­i­mum wage is for un­skilled work­ers only, es­pe­cially in the in­for­mal sec­tor. Whilst unions have con­tin­ued cam­paign­ing for in­crease in this min­i­mum wage, fact re­mains that this is the first time the un­skilled work­ers es­pe­cially in the in­for­mal sec­tor, have been given a min­i­mum wage. But this does not in any way mean that em­ploy­ers can­not pay their work­ers above this min­i­mum wage limit. Many un­skilled work­ers would at­test that when the min­i­mum wage was not in­tro­duced, there used to be so much ex­ploita­tion whereby some used to get even $1.50 per hour or be­low. How­ever, this min­i­mum wage means un­skilled work­ers are able to get a de­cent min­i­mum wage. And as pointed out by the act­ing Prime Min­is­ter, Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum, Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to re­view this and de­pend­ing on the anal­y­sis, they will make ad­just­ments. So why can’t this min­i­mum wage be in­creased dra­mat­i­cally to $4 or $5 per hour as be­ing cam­paigned for by the Fiji Trades Union Congress? One has to be mind­ful on the link of un­skilled work­ers to the in­for­mal sec­tor and the smaller busi­ness – your cor­ner shops etc. The in­for­mal sec­tor can­not af­ford to pay such high wages and if it is in­tro­duced, then it would be bet­ter for them to do the work them­selves than to hire some­one else. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had a good ex­am­ple of the in­volve­ment of the in­for­mal sec­tor. “We al­ways tend to fo­cus on the for­mal sec­tor of em­ploy­ment. There are so many peo­ple in Fiji who are not part of the for­mal sec­tor,” he said. “We have many peo­ple em­ployed in the in­for­mal sec­tor also. “I stopped yes­ter­day in Koro­visa­lou and bought Kavika, ba­nanas and co­conuts and I talked to the ladies sell­ing these. “They told me some­times they make $200 a week, some­times $250, and some­times only $50 a week.” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s point was given, these women in the in­for­mal sec­tor are not even able to gen­er­ate much in­come, how would a not well-thought out min­i­mum wage af­fect them and oth­ers like them? “Will it have an im­pact on the price of goods and ser­vices we buy? Will it af­fect their abil­ity to hire their nephew who got out of school and wants to join their busi­ness?” he ques­tioned. “Will they be taken to the em­ploy­ment court for not pay­ing the $4 or $5 min­i­mum wage? These are the crit­i­cal is­sues you need to un­der­stand.”

There­fore, it is crit­i­cal firstly that all Fi­jians un­der­stand the min­i­mum wage rate of $2.32 per hour is for un­skilled work­ers only, es­pe­cially in the in­for­mal sec­tor.

Se­condly, it is im­per­a­tive they un­der­stand the eco­nomics and the dy­nam­ics Gov­ern­ment has based its de­ci­sions on. And most im­por­tantly, em­ploy­ers need to un­der­stand this is just a min­i­mum wage and they can pay much more.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.