Police role queried in Vatukoula issue

Police at the Vatukoula Gold Mine on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

FIJI Trades Union Congress national secretary Felix Anthony says police should not have been involved in an ongoing issue between Vatukoula Gold Mine Ltd workers and management because it was an industrial matter.

He was responding to queries from this newspaper after police moved into Vatukoula this week allegedly because of workers raising concerns about pay and safety issues at the Philip and Smith shafts.

Mr Anthony said he was aware of the concerns and the issue was being dealt with through discussions between the union and management.

“Police have no business being there because this is an industrial matter between the workers and the company,” he said.

“We are well aware of the laws of this country.

“The National Union of Workers, which represents the majority of the mine workers, will follow the proper procedures and deal with management according to the law.”

Workers at the mine who spoke to this newspaper under the condition of anonymity said there were serious concerns about safety and salaries.

Mr Anthony said all the issues raised by the mine workers had been raised with the company.

“It is important that people understand that the working conditions at the mine are atrocious and the safety concerns are genuine,” he claimed.

“We have had numerous accidents which have gone unreported.

“The workers face risks and serious safety issues are the types of things these workers have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro had confirmed that the divisional police commander West was part of a meeting between workers’ representatives and mine management and she also said police had been called in “because of some internal matters that happened”.

When contacted yesterday, she said that police would no longer be commenting on the issue.