Almost five months after the General Elections, the Bainimarama Government fulfils its promise to the Fijian people, as committed in the Fiji First Manifesto, by endorsing the increase of the national minimum wage (NMW) from $2.00 per hour to $2.32 per hour.
This development follows a submission made to Cabinet by the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Hon. Jioji Konousi Konrote.
The new National Minimum Wage (NMW) will be effective from 1st July 2015. This timeframe is to provide the market and businesses ample adjustment time, especially for exporters and the small and micro enterprises.
Over the past five years, the Fijian economy achieved an impressive average growth of about 3.2%. The growth for 2013 was revised upwards to 4.6% and stood at 3.8% in 2014.
Therefore, it is only fair for Government to ensure that the national economic gains are shared with marginalised Fijian workers, who have contributed significantly to Fiji’s growing economy.
A key objective of the National Minimum Wage Policy is the protection of about 100,000 workers who are the most vulnerable in our society. These are workers who are isolated by trade unions and who do not have any bargaining power and they have the most inhumane living standards.
The Policy also provides an improved competitive platform for businesses, as competition for factor inputs would be fairer in terms of production costs.
Increasing the NMW from $2.00 per hour to $2.32 per hour (with the 45 or 48 hour-week), means that about 100,000 marginalized workers will have their weekly wages increased from the $90.00 – $96.00 range, to the $104.40 – $111.36 range.
It must be appreciated that these workers were paid about $60.00 per week prior to the implementation of the first National Minimum Wage in 1st March 2014. They will now receive a second increase under the revised NMW in just over a year.
The Ministry reiterates that the National Minimum Wage does not repeal but coexists with the current sectoral minimum wage rates for workers in the ten (10) sectors covered under the 2012 Wages Regulations Orders.
The Ministry appeals to all employers to be fair and just in distributing their profits and productivity gains not only to their shareholders, but especially to their workers, who are the most important assets of their organizations.
To remain competitive, employers are encouraged to shift their business culture from one of ‘cheap labour’ dependency towards incentivizing workers to enhance their creativity and innovation and add more value to their goods and services with greater productivity and product differentiation.