COVID hits companies – Companies struggle to pay employees’ full wages: Batiweti

The once busy Capital City pictured faces a time of struggle as companies struggle to pay employees’ full wages. Picture: (FILE) MONIKA SINGH

The five to six weeks lockdown affected most of the members’ companies with some struggling to pay their employees their full wages, says Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) chief executive officer Kameli Batiweti.

In response to questions, Mr Batiweti said for most of their members’ companies there were no income coming in during this period, while the expenses continued unabated, as if there was no lockdown.

According to Mr Batiweti some struggled to pay their employees their full wages and had to resort to payment of reduced wages/salaries to allow their employees to be able to purchase products for home consumption.

“Fortunately, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service and Fiji National Provident Fund came through these difficult times to extend the period of payment of taxes and FNPF contributions to a later date, without the fines that usually accompany late payments during normal times,” he said.

Mr Batiweti said their members accepted the lockdown period because it was necessary to bring the outbreak of the pandemic under control.

Meanwhile the FCEF secretariat kept in touch with its members to see what assistance they could provide.

Virtual meetings with key officials such as permanent secretaries were also organised by the secretariat to allow them to explain the protocols and give members an opportunity to ask questions to clarify their doubts.

He said they were grateful that Government approved for their companies to reopen, with strict adherence to the COVID Safe Protocols, to provide their employees an opportunity to earn a wage during these difficult times.

“Our members stand ready to assist Government during these difficult times.”

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