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Sugar mill under scrutiny

Repeka Nasiko
Saturday, February 09, 2013

WORKING conditions at the Lautoka mill was brought under scrutiny after an employee lodged a complaint that led to the mill being closed for a few hours two weeks ago.

While meeting with the Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Jone Usamate, the employee revealed that many of the labourers hired by the Fiji Sugar Corporation mill were loading 50 kilograms of sugar onto trucks for delivery.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, each worker is only allowed to carry a weight of up to 25kg.

"This was a clear breach of the OHS Act and many of the labourers are not equipped with proper OHS compliant protective gear. Many of them injure themselves during the heavy lifting," the worker claimed.

He said he had been carrying out OHS workshops for contracted labourers and raising issues with the Ministry of Labour.

"As a result of the workshops that I have been doing and the complaint that I lodged, my pay has been also deducted."

OHS inspectors were called to the mill about two weeks ago after the complaint was lodged. FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan said he was aware of the issue but stressed the complaint was against the contracted company.

"The procedure required two people to lift 50 kg bags. The contracted company was not following this. To address the issue, forklifts were introduced, manual labour will not be used to lift 50 kg bags.

"This will be strictly monitored to make sure it does not happen again," he said.





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