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Union Mobilizes Against Poverty Wages at NestlÚ Fiji

Posted to the IUF website 05-Sep-2006

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The IUF-affiliated Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union will be balloting on industrial action following NestlÚ Fiji's refusal to negotiate a wage hike which would lift workers above the poverty line.

NestlÚ, which just posted a 11.4% increase in profits for the last 6 months for a net gain of USD 3.36 billion, employs some 200 workers at its Fiji operation. The majority of these earn less than 2.75 Fiji dollars (FJD), or USD 1.59 hourly. The official poverty line is estimated at FJD 3.50 or a net weekly take home pay of FJD 143. A small number of NestlÚ's skilled machine operators earn FJD 3.50, compared with for example the FJD 3.40 earned by union members employed to sweep floors in the country's sugar mills.

The union has been seeking, in difficult negotiations, to raise the minimum wage at the NestlÚ plant to FJD 3.50 per hour. NestlÚ's latest offer provided for an increase of FJD 0.72 per day - less than the cost of a loaf of bread (0.85).

Union general secretary Felix Anthony calls management's offer "quite possibly the most measly ever offered by a transnational company in Fiji."