Garment manufacturer pioneers ECE for workers

Mark Halabe (left) with Michael Towler at the Fiji Australia Business Forum at Marriott Resort Fiji Momi Bay. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

ONE of the country’s leading garment manufacturers has tackled absenteeism by building a child care centre and establishing work hours which allows mums to drop and pick their children from school.

Mark One Apparel (Fiji) Ltd managing director Mark Halabe said he introduced the new initiatives in a bid to provide working mothers the ability to earn an income and meet their families’ needs.

Speaking at the Fiji Australia Business Forum at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay last week, Mr Halabe said he conducted a survey within his organisation and discovered that the majority of women who did not come to work were absent because of child-related issues.

“So I’ve done something about it, I’ve just finished building a child care centre in the factory,” he said

“We have been fortunate that MDF (Market Development Facility), through the AusAid program, gave us $50,000 to get it architecturally designed and we demolished a toilet block and rebuilt it on the side of the factory.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we have been able to get APTC (Australia-Pacific Technical College) involved in this project.

“They will run this centre as a centre of excellence where they will train early childhood education teachers within our organisation to qualify them into Fiji.

“The Australian Volunteer Service, through AusAID as well, has accepted our application to find a director of ECE to come and actually set it up to Australian standard.

“Having children under the age of five, close to the factory with their mother nearby is all new territory for us.

“That is my part of improving productivity in the workforce with our women.”

Mr Halabe said he also formed a subgroup within his organisation for women who wanted to start at nine and finish at three to allow them to drop and pick their kids from school.

Mark One Apparel employs 420 workers and produces about 2500 garments a day for the international sportswear market.