March 6, 2022
“Why has the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy gone underground when the very industry the AG used to attack our $5 an hour minimum living wage in 2018 has now shot down Government’s proposed minimum wage hike?”
This is the question to Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum by National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad following the President of Textile Clothing & Footwear Industry Council President Michael Towler’s strong opposition to raise the current minimum wage from $2.68 an hour to between $3.45-$3.65 an hour.
Professor Prasad said the fact that Government has suddenly undertaken this review in an election year proves its intention of politicking because it did absolutely nothing in the last 4 years and even its consultant carrying out the review shamelessly described the current rate of $2.68 an hour as sufficient to meet the cost of living.
The NFP Leader said now in the middle of the review the textile clothing and footwear industry , “who were incited by the AG to show hostility towards NFP’s proposal for a minimum living wage in 2018”, are now vigorously opposed to even a modest rise.
“This cabal of businessmen who opposed our proposal in 2018 when the so called Bainimarama Boom was in its 9th year, are now in a panic mode, aided and abetted by Fiji Sun and FBC 4 years ago”.
“As early as March 14, 2018, the Economy Minister, during a ministerial statement in parliament, was parroting lies and half-truths about increasing minimum wage saying the Opposition was politicising the issue and didn’t know what it was talking about”.
“4 years later, the Minister’s ally, who acted as his proxy back then, is totally opposed to the review. And the Minister’s silence is deafening. Why?”
“Can the AG and Economy Minister visit the workplaces of the textile clothing and footwear industry and tell the workers to support his review, just as he did in 2018 telling workers not to endorse NFP’s proposal because it could lead to loss of their employment?”
“This is the gutter-level kind of politics that was used in 2018. And now, in a case of what goes around comes around, the Minister is totally silent and oblivious to what his business friends are saying”,
“The Fiji First government , especially the AG and Economy Minister are being hoisted by their own petard in this electioneering façade”.
“The reality of the matter is the die has been cast”.
“And this government’s 15 years of riding roughshod over people’s mandate and democracy is coming to an end”.