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Labourer wants fair pay

Serafina Silaitoga
Sunday, June 18, 2017

CANE labourers want Government to gazette their tonnage rate of cutting cane.

While farmers have complained about the high cost of paying labourers — $20 per tonne — cutters believe gazetting the rate would also benefit canecutters.

At Nubu, Macuata, canecutters believe the standard rate would also benefit their families as they have expenses to cater for.

Vilikesa Daunivucu, who has been a labourer for more than 20 years, said gazetting the rates would save unnecessary problems as well.

"When I first started, we were paid $5 to $6 for a tonne of cane, but today it's $20 a tonne per cutter and that's fair because this job is not easy," he said.

"The rate of canecutters should be gazetted because there have been times when cutters and farmers don't agree with the rate.

"If Government gazettes the rate for cutters, then farmers will have to abide and pay accordingly."

Farmers, Mr Daunivucu said had lost labourers because they refused to pay the rate labourers wanted.

"I have also had a hard time negotiating with farmers about the rate especially for those who do not camp at the farms, but travel daily from home," he said.

"We start work at 5am, have breakfast at 8am and most times after loading a truck, if it's available, then break at lunch time.

"At about 3pm, we are back on the farm and work until 6pm and if we are behind with our loads of cane, we continue cutting cane as long as there is daylight."

Another labourer Peni Sakuluta of Wainikoro agreed as this would keep labourers on the farm.

"We work in the hot sun, rainy weather and in the cold and cutting cane is not easy," he said.

"Another reason why cane cutters should be well paid is because we also have families to support and for us who travel from villages, it means sacrificing our time on the farms.

"Some of us have yaqona farms, but we come and cut cane to help us pay for the bills because the yaqona is not matured yet."

Other cane cutters in the area agreed that their rate should be gazetted.

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