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Save jobs, not sacrifice them, urges garment council
Feb '09
Over 300 jobs have been lost in Fiji's TCF industry as result of the 20% minimum wage increase! The governments in USA, Australia, NZ, and Europe are fighting tooth and nail to save millions of jobs. Businesses are cutting down on costs to survive. Our main export markets, Australia and New Zealand are both in huge economic downturn.

The fact is that, from the outset, the TCF industry has not been against wage increase. It has been incorrectly stated that the industry is opposing any increase whatsoever. The industry supports a wage increase but given the prevailing economic climate, the increase should have been reasonable & sustainable, something that won't result in job losses.

The industry will comply with the new minimum wages as stipulated by law. However, the wage increases in Fiji has forced companies to increase prices. The increased prices will mean that Fiji is more expensive. Hence, our customers will reduce their production in Fiji and move to more cost-effective countries.

The industry expects that a further 800 to 1000 jobs will be lost in next 6 months as result of the wage increases in the depressed economic conditions. Out of the 9 Wages Council, the TCF Wages Council is the only one that is export-oriented. Global economic trends and trade relations have a direct impact on the industry and cannot be ignored. To disregard this fact would be grossly irresponsible especially since all countries around the world have given top priority to saving as many jobs as possible and not to increasing pay.

The pursuit of “just” wages regardless of the prevailing economic conditions is in fact an act of gross injustice to the workers themselves. As former interim Labour Minister Mr. Vayeshnoi said in his speech During the inauguration of the Wages Councils in July last year, former interim Labour Minister Mr. Vayeshnoi had this to say.

“You have to work together in partnership for at the end of the day both the employer and worker will be judged by level of productivity and quality achieved. It is therefore vital for the survival of businesses that any increases in wages are relative to ability of the employer to sustain that increase. If that cannot be done than we cannot realize our vision of reducing the work deficit for there cannot be decent wages if there is no work.”

TCF Council of Fiji

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