Fiji kicks off long-awaited pay review

By on 01/06/2017
The Fijian Parliament building, where a pay review of it's civil service is currently underway (Image courtesy: Matthias Suessen).

The government of Fiji is conducting a pay review of its entire civil service, as part of a reform programme designed to improve public service delivery standards across the Pacific island nation. After a sharp rise in inflation to around 5% during 2016, civil servants are hoping for their first significant pay rise in over three years.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told the Fijian Parliament in February this year that the pay review will take some time, and will cover salary scales as well as allowances, benefits and terms and conditions.

While all civil servants can expect some increase in pay, the government says it won’t take an across-the-board approach to salary changes. Benchmark data will be used to set different rates for more highly qualified staff.

“To carry out a civil service reform in a civil service that has not had substantial reform since independence, obviously, it will take time and it needs to be done well,” Sayed-Khaiyum said, the Fiji Times reported.

“We need to do it properly and take the right steps. We are not here to please [the opposition]. We’re here to please all the people of Fiji. Remuneration is one of the steps.”

The Attorney General, who is also Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications, outlined the timetable for the civil service reforms in a statement to parliament on 7 February, according to the Fiji Sun.

The salary review will examine different departments in turn and is expected to be completed by August. In the first quarter, units including immigration, accounting, information, research and statistics, procurement and support services will be assessed.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, attorney general, Fiji (Image courtesy: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

The second quarter will see the departments of health, education and social services assessed, while the assessments of sections including foreign affairs, environment and information technology will take place in the third quarter.

Benchmarking exercises have been launched with the private sector and professions in neighbouring countries. Scrutiny of terms and conditions was due to begin in the spring.

Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who is leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), said on Sunday: “The grievances of civil servants over the harsh and intimidatory tactics of the Bainimarama government over the last 11 years are many.

“These grievances include the cessation of merit pay and salary increments, which have been frozen without any justifiable explanation since 2009.”

The last civil service pay increase in Fiji was on 1 January 2014. Increases ranged from 23% for staff on low salaries starting at 10,000 Fijian dollars (US$4900) to 4% for higher earners receiving 76,000 Fijian dollars (US$36,000).

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who led a coup d’etat in 2006, has been in office since 2007. Opposition leader Rabuka was Prime Minister from 1992 to 1999, after leading two military coups in 1987.

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See also:

Canadian union logs formal grievance over troubled pay system

Minister promises written apology to public servants over federal pay issues

Senior Republicans prepare to squeeze civil servants’ benefits and protections

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London, who specialises in international news. She worked on daily newspapers for 16 years, reporting extensively on both general news and education. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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