Fijian workers talk of poverty wages
UnionAID’s new project in Fiji is making good headway, with workers keen to participate despite some negative pressure from employers. Project Manager Kuini Lutua and her team have surveyed nearly 200 workers to find out what they know about their rights under Fiji’s Wage Regulated Orders (WRO) and to identify abuses of the orders and other concerns.
The survey information collected so far has highlighted a number of concerns for workers with low wages chief amongst them. Many workers rely on extra overtime wages to help make ends meet each week, however a number of those surveyed complained their employers refuse to pay the overtime wages legally required under the WRO. Even when the WRO is adhered to most garment factory workers stated their minimum wage of NZ$1.40/hr is not enough for their family to live on.
The project team will continue the survey over the coming months by arranging meetings in the squatter settlements that many of the workers live in and where workers are free from employer intimidation. Later in the year workshops will be run to educate workers about their rights under the WRO and the importance of collective action. A push to increase the WRO for some sectors is also planned once all the evidence from the survey is collected.