Case of worker not given compensation highlighted in Parliament

Opposition member Pio Tikoduadua, followed by the Assistant Minister for Health Alexander O'Connor and opposition members Anare Jale and Viliame Gavoka leaving parliament during a break in the sitting. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

THE case of a worker who was not given compensation after sustaining an alleged debilitating injury at his employer’s residence was highlighted in Parliament this week.

National Federation Party parliamentarian Pio Tikoduadua said these were some of the challenges individual workers faced when seeking compensation for workplace injuries and accidents and trying to raise complaints.

Mr Tikoduadua said he could not name the worker because it was prohibited under Parliamentary Standing Orders.

“This person was an employee of this particular company from 2008,” he said.

“Under the old contract since 2008, he was being paid $25 daily and worked daily for seven days a week until 8th July, 2015.

“Apart from factory work, he was also required to carry out duties at the owner’s home and compound.

“In April 2013, he got injured while cutting grass at the owner’s residence, which resulted in his right eye getting damaged.

“The Colonial War Memorial Hospital eye surgeon has given the report, his vision is really impaired.

“He was promised by the director that he will be compensated but, unfortunately for the poor man, nothing has been done until now.

“On 18th April, 2016 he wrote to the honourable Prime Minister and the honourable Attorney-General but claims he did not receive any assistance at all.”

Mr Tikoduadua said the man claimed that the Industrial Relations and Employment Ministry refused to help him after he approached them on April 28, 2016 and he had lodged a complaint with the then Fiji Commerce Commission (now Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission) to no avail.

“In 2017, the company offered him a new contract with revised pay but put a caveat in the acceptance letter which was that he must withdraw all grievances from the Ministry of Labour, and not to complain at any time in the future.

“The company went ahead and drafted a letter on behalf of the employee to the ministry stating that he was withdrawing all his complaints but the employee refused to sign.

“He was then offered an hourly rate of $2.40 an hour, well below the minimum wage rate.”

Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Parveen Kumar said the matter was before the Employment Relations Tribunal and he did not wish to touch on the subject matter.

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