July 24, 2013

A-G: Planned industrial action a shameless attempt

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ATTORNEY-General and Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has slammed the planned industrial action by Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union.

In a media release issued yesterday, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said union general secretary Felix Anthony was putting his own personal interests ahead of the wellbeing of the workers he claimed to represent.

"Any industrial action, especially in the middle of crushing season, is a shameless attempt to damage the sugar industry at a time when reform and hard work are showing concrete results in improving its financial health, reversing a long decline," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"This progress made possible the raise announced last week.

"These steps forward have also meant that sugar cane farmers are now paid more and paid sooner for their crops."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said by inciting industrial action at a critical time for the sugar industry, the union head had no regard for the welfare of his members.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Mr Anthony said despite a 5.3 per cent pay increase announced by the Fiji Sugar Corporation on Friday, the union was going ahead with a secret ballot to determine industrial action by mill workers.

Mr Anthony claims with the wage adjustment workers were earning far below the poverty line and for a shorter period due to the reduced mill crushing season brought on by a decline in crop production.

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