Strike notice

CANE lorry operators unhappy with the ease of access granted to billeted cane at mills in the Western Division have issued a 14-day strike notice to the Sugar Industry Tribunal (SIT).

SIT commissioner Tim Brown confirmed he had received the intention to strike by the Fiji Cane Lorry Association president Jitend Singh and national secretary Mukesh Chand.

“The cane lorry association has said all trucks should just follow the queue,” explained Mr Brown.

“After consulting all mills and their executives, I issued a certificate of dispute.

“The tribunal, in his deliberations, then issued an order that billeted cane should have direct access to the mill. That’s the tribunal’s call.

“The lorry association disagreed and came up with counsel on July 7 and on July 8.

“The tribunal issued an order that he will not vary the order giving billeted cane direct access. But he allowed the FCLA to present its case if it wished to do so.

“At this juncture, we are waiting for the association to present its case before the tribunal.”

When contacted yesterday, Mr Chand said he could not comment on the issue as yet.

The Fiji Cane Lorry Association, in its submission to the SIT, said all cane lorries should be given equal priority when unloading cane at the mills.

However, Mr Brown said because of the faster deterioration of billeted cane, trucks carrying cane cut with a mechanical harvester had to be given direct access.

There are about 1700 cane lorries in operation during the harvest and crush season.