Thursday, June 28, 2012

Would you work for less than $2F an hour?

from w
Disturbing as it always is, the wages in Fiji for garment factory workers - and those in the tourist resorts, is still very very low. It's actually appalling.

Garment workers live in poverty: FTUC
June 13, 2012 09:29:21 AM

Fiji garment workers today earn and live below the poverty line, says Fiji Trade Union Congress national secretary Felix Anthony.

Anthony said this is nothing that Fiji ought to be proud of.

His comment comes after the announcement by the president of the Fiji Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council, Kalpesh Solanki last month that the garment industry is poised for a $100 million boom.

Anthony said this is definitely derived from the blood and sweat of the garment industry workers where 70 per cent are women who are forced to work on low and demeaning wages.

“Their current rate of wages per Wages Council Order is a measly $1.65 per hour for learners and $1.96 for others that are all other class of workers in the garment industry. It is no secret that this was arrived at after a long battle," Anthony said in a statement.

The Garment Industry Wages Council had agreed some time ago that the new and revised rates for the workers should be $1.80 and $2.15 respectively.

However, Anthony said this recommendation has been mysteriously lost somewhere in the system.

“The chairman of the Wages Councils (Fr K. Barr) has openly declared that the TCF has always opposed such necessary changes and then gone via the back door to frustrate the implementation of the agreed increases. The same applies right now so their boast today for improved future is same old rhetoric and sounds as hollow as ever.”

The 2012 UNDP Survey for Vanua Levu shows that over 48 per cent of population there is living below the poverty line.

Anthony said it has been determined time and again that one of the basic reasons for poverty in this country is due to the low level of wages paid to the employees.

This is reflected starkly by the wages paid to the workers in the garment industry.

Solanki said in his speech at the Fiji/China bilateral technical assistance workshop last month that the Garment Wages Council was the very first wages council to agree to the increase in the minimum wages in April this year.

He said through consensus it was agreed to increase minimum wages by nine per cent. “This recommendation is before the Ministry of Labour at the moment.”

By Ropate Valemei

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