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Fiji Time: 9:59 AM on Friday 22 August

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PAFCO jobs at risk

Nasik Swami
Friday, October 05, 2012

ABOUT 500 people could lose their jobs if a fishing company relocates to Suva.

Pacific Fishing Company Limited workers raised their concerns with the Constitution Commission.

Commissioner Penelope Moore said the majority of the women working at PAFCO, in their submissions, said they needed assistance from the authorities because they were told they would lose their jobs.

Ms Moore said the women stressed that their main source of income came from the factory and as a result of the proposed factory relocation their families would suffer.

"The women had been advised last year of the possible relocation and they now fear for their survival," she said.

When this matter was put to PAFCO chairman Peniasi Kunatuba, he refused to comment saying all management matters were handled by CEO Bhan Pratap Singh.

When contacted, Mr Singh declined to comment.

"Whatever the women have told the commission is sufficient information and I am not going to comment," he said.

Teresea Yee Shaw, a retired schoolteacher, told the commission many women would lose their jobs if the tuna factory was moved to Suva.

"Women make about 80 per cent of PAFCO's workforce and the new constitution should have provisions to cater for women's rights, interests and aspirations," she said.

Ms Moore said the women informed the commission the whole of Levuka was somehow linked to PAFCO and if the company relocated, the town would collapse.

She said the commission was told by the workers that they worked from 6am to 5pm with a net weekly pay of $102.

"They do a lot of work for very little money and in addition we have been told that the company no longer has workers compensation," Ms Moore said.

She said relevant authorities should come on board and discuss what would happen to Levuka and its people when PAFCO relocates.

"What industry will replace PAFCO? What will the source of income be for the people?" she asked.

Ms Moore said the commission could not make the necessary changes but was voicing the concerns to government to help and support these workers.

Permanent secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns said PAFCO's operations would continue.

"Any changes to the operations of PAFCO will take into account the welfare of all PAFCO employees as well as the welfare, sustainability and growth of the tuna industry in Fiji," Ms Smith-Johns said.

The women said they were hopeful the government would find a solution.


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