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Wage hike to benefit garment industry
Dec '08
Father Kevin Barr, Chairman, National Wages Council
Father Kevin Barr, Chairman, National Wages Council
Recently, National Wages Council approved pay hike for nine industries, including garment, printing, building, hotel and catering, security, road transport, saw milling, and wholesale and retail that would come into effect from January 1, 2009.

Security guards and garment factory workers are amongst lowly paid workers. The Garment Industry, has received 20 percent pay rise compared to the old wage rate of Fijian $1.48.

“Our garment workers are currently the lowest paid workers in the country and their wages have not been increased for three years. The Wages Council has suggested that for beginners the increase should be from $1.25 an hour to $1.50 an hour. For those with over 5 months experience, the payment should be hiked from $1.48 an hour to $1.78 an hour. Even if these proposals are accepted, our garment workers will still be the lowest paid workers catered for by the Wages Councils,” told Father Kevin Barr Chairman National Wages Council, while speaking to Fibre2fashion.com.

Apart from increase in wages certain other benefits should be given to the employees of garment factories. “There should also be an increase in meal allowance but this was put on hold for the time being. No other benefits were granted by the Wages Councils. However our new Wages Regulation Promulgation provides good maternity benefits for women at work who are having children. Anyways a number of employers are not happy with these maternity provisions,” says Father Kevin Barr.

It is obvious that raising worker's wages is going to benefit the garment industry of the country. At the moment workers in this sector are earning wages well below the poverty line (currently F$164 a week). A better wages should mean that they are better fed, housed and that they can pay school fees for their children. Now, they should be more content workers and more productive.

Discussing the future of the garment sector in Fiji, the Wages Council Chairman said, “At the moment world is going through an economic downturn and, while Fiji is said to be fairly safe from the worst of the problems, we will certainly be affected in some ways. The garment industry in Fiji has declined in recent years due to the loss of quotas. We hope it will survive and find ways to flourish but it should not expect to survive on the basis of poverty wages.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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