A Correction from Fr Kevin Barr

From: Kevin Barr

To: ""croz.walsh@xtra.co.nz"
Sent: Friday, October 18, 2013 9:47 AM
Subject: Blog on Minimum Wage

Dear Croz,
Greetings!  Someone drew my attention to your report on my statement on the Minimum Wage.

I presume you got it from one of the NZ media who called me for an interview.  I never gave any figure such as $4.85 but pointed out (as I did to Dr Reddy) that when I was at University we were taught that a nation's minimum wage should ideally be pegged against that country's current poverty line.

I estimated that Fiji's current poverty line must be around $194 a week but suggested the interviewer get the exact figure from Epeli at FIBOS.  I also mentioned that this ideal could probably not be met now in Fiji because for 36 years (as Wadan Narsey showed in his research Just Wages for Fiji - Lifting Workers out of Poverty) the Wages Councils had never kept up with the cost of living and so this has meant a great increase in poverty over the years.

Most of the other things you report came from the interview except I mentioned that food prices went up 38% (not 30%) after devaluation.

The proposed $2.32 will certainly make a difference for many low paid workers - domestic workers, gardeners, even those in the garment industry and security industry already covered by the Wages Councils.

It is a good start but needs constant revision in view of up-dated statistics.

Dr Reddy did a lot of good research and the information collected from surveys is very useful. One thing the Minister picked up from one of the surveys was that quite a large percentage of employers are not paying the current Wage Regulation Orders.

Consequently the need for policing compliance is a big issue.

Thanks Croz and keep up the good work.

Kevin Barr

Note: My source was Fiji Live, not  the NZ Media. Click here to read.
I asked Fr Barr's permission to publish his email.  This is his reply:

Thanks Croz.
Good to hear from you.
You are welcome to  publish my email on NMW (new minimum wage). 
I saw your article on the Unions this morning and have copied it to read at home.  The office is too busy to really concentrate. We are too popular and all sorts of people call in from government officials, overseas donors, researchers down to the poorest squatter dwellers.
Every blessing!
Fr. Kevin J. Barr
Peoples Community Network Fiji (PCN)
PO Box 5336, Raiwaqa
Lot 36 Koroi Place



Anonymous said…
Does this idiot priest and supporter of the illegal junta actually think this coup has brought prosperity to the nation? Poverty has never been worse and this idiot priest is part of the problem not the solution.
KN said…
Not sure about idiot but kudos to the priest for his contribution towards the setting up of the nations minimum wage. @Anonymous, watch Forreign Correspondence and see how the US is fairly very badly esp New Jersy which is considered a rich state. People rely on tips to live, minimum wage being $2.13, take home pay every fortnight is $50 after tax.
Crosbie Walsh said…
Anonymous. How little you know, or seem to want to know. You attack a man of integrity who has done so much for Fiji's poor, and you haven't even got the guts to identify yourself. And if, as you say Fr Barr, is a Government supporter, why is he no longer chairman of the Wages Council? Fr Barr is an independent thinker who gives praise and criticism where he thinks due. Don't you remember that government sought to deport him?

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