‘Don’t forget unskilled employees’: Vilise

Labasa business entrepreneur Semesa Vilise speaks during the minimum wage rate review. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

GOVERNMENT has forgotten about unskilled workers and their plight as it focuses on raking in more investors into the country.

These were the words of Labasa business entrepreneur Semesa Vilise during the national minimum wage consultations in the North last week.

Mr Vilise said unskilled workers were very much a part of Fiji’s workforce and they also contributed to the country’s economy.

He said those workers could not be forced to seek education from tertiary institutions for reasons known best to them.

“Government needs to realise this and don’t ignore the sector that’s been the legs on which this country stood on over the past years,” Mr Vilise said.

“It’s common that when overseas investors visit our country, they are either ignorant of our minimum wage or they are just cheating the system.

“They need to be told and reminded of the wage rates in place and are monitored because many of them are operating silently and benefiting from the contribution of our unskilled workers.

“This could be one of the reasons these investors prefer to come to Fiji because of our cheap and unmonitored labour market.”

Mr Vilise said Government needed to keep a close tag on overseas investors and working conditions of their employees because they were sometimes mistreated.

In response, Employment Minister Parveen Kumar questioned the basis of Mr Vilise’s submission, saying that those making submissions at the consultations needed to balance their statements with many fearing to talk out of fear.

Mr Kumar said: “If you are saying that Government has forgotten unskilled workers, then why are we here in the first place?”

He claimed the present administration was the only Government that had recognised the minimum wages.

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