The Fiji Times
Living wage ‘disparity’
WORKERS cannot be blamed for leaving Fiji to find employment in Australia and New Zealand, says Fiji Trade Unions Congress (FTUC) general secretary Felix Anthony.
Speaking on online news platform, The Lens @177, he said that while Fiji’s minimum wage rate cannot be changed overnight, it should be already looked into.
“Well, I really think that the living wage today should be anywhere from $6 to $7 an hour. That would be the living wage and I must differentiate between a minimum wage and a living wage,” Mr Anthony said.
“A living wage ought to be where a worker is able to provide sufficiently for his family, meet their social obligations and be comfortable. To have a respectable standard of living.
“That is what we want in this country. It’s not only a minimum wage that we’re after and of course, I quite understand that this can’t happen overnight, it has to happen gradually and we’re prepared to look at these things but yes, we need to.”
The trade unionist said there could be no comparison between the wages that people earn in Fiji and the wage they’ll earn in New Zealand and Australia because the minimum wages totally differed.
“But of course, we need to also look at the new scenario in this country right now, we have workers leaving this country, we have a minimum wage here of $4 an hour while we have our very neighbour, closest neighbour is New Zealand with $NZ25 , $NZ27 an hour and if we convert them to Fijian, it’s more than $30 an hour.
“So, where do we stand with $4 and $30 an hour, for instance? Just a rough comparison. There’s no comparison whatsoever, so we can’t blame our workers for leaving Fiji and wanting to work elsewhere.
“Instead of us trying to compete with Bangladesh and Pakistan, countries like that, we need to start competing with countries like even New Zealand and Australia because that’s where are we losing our best people.”