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NFU: 'Ridiculous' plan

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

THE National Farmers Union has labelled Government's plan to engage foreign labourers to harvest cane as "ridiculous".

Union general secretary and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry said the move would further worsen the unemployment issue and could possibly open up security risks for the country.

"It is disturbing news because as it is, there is already an influx of foreign workers in supermarkets, service stations, roads and the construction sector whilst our locals go without jobs," Mr Chaudhry said.

He made the comment in response to Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary Yogesh Karan's revelation last Thursday that labourers from Asian sugar-producing nations would be brought in to alleviate the labour shortage issue on cane farms. Mr Chaudhry said while there was a shortage of canecutters, the matter should have been attended to by finding a local solution rather than importing foreign labour.

"We are now finding that at all levels of employment from the top down, foreigners are taking jobs. In a lot of cases, employers prefer them because they are able to hire them at very low rates and are able to also get away with compliance issues like paying FNPF.

"This is not good for the future of our country. Then again, it is a question whether these people will be properly screened. "We had a serious issue with 77 Chinese nationals being deported last year that the Government has not revealed any details of.

"We simply cannot have a repeat of that kind of event again." He said local canecutters should be registered and placed in a pool and their charges should be subsidised by Government. Farmers can come and pick out of this pool and in this way, we address the unemployment issue and also better organise the manner in which cane labourers are utilised."

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