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Foreign canecutters 'step in the wrong direction'

Repeka Nasiko
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

OPPOSITION spokesperson for employment Mikaele Leawere says it is highly alarming and equally deplorable for Government to decide to recruit foreign labour for sugarcane cutting.

Mr Leawere was responding to recent comments made by Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Yogesh Karan, who said canecutters from sugar-producing Asian countries would be recruited when harvesting for the new season began in June.

"It is a step in the wrong direction aimed at compromising our national security, public interest and depriving local people of job opportunities," said Mr Leawere in a statement.

"If there is no one willing to cut the cane then the onus lies on the Government to do some soul searching and find out the facts on what has gone wrong in the sugar industry that leads to people running away from the cane fields to other vocations of life or lying idle at home. What is the cause of the mood of resignation enveloping Fiji?

"The Opposition does not see any reason why the FijiFirst Government should deny local people the right to economic participation with equal opportunities.

"Unless it has some other ulterior motives or devious designs, such as denying our people from reaping any benefits from our industries to better their lives.

"We have just witnessed the poor quality of workmanship by foreign labourers and firms where millions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer's funds have gone to waste.

"We do not want to see Fiji becoming a dumping ground for cheap labour, compromising our productivity and quality standards."

He said a SODELPA government would review this policy.

"It is time to set our country free and not to carry the burden of nations who have nothing to offer to Fiji except more problems," Mr Leawere said.

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