Usamate to ‘correct’ issues

EMPLOYMENT and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate says he will issue a statement later this week to “correct” issues raised by Opposition parliamentarian Mikaele Leawere on labour reforms in the country.

Last Thursday in Parliament — in response to Mr Usamate’s statement on labour reforms — Mr Leawere said the industrial climate in Fiji over the past decade had been nothing short of “poor, failed and miserable”.

“This Government has agitated our people to a mood of resignation, despair and migration at a huge cost to the national economy in terms of human resources,” he said.

Mr Leawere went on to say that issues with labour reforms included legislation being passed without consulting worker representatives with the promulgation of the Employment Relations Decree.

He added that this also included curtailing powers of trade unions and deregistration of industrial associations to further weaken workers voices in nation building.

Mr Leawere also said the $2.68 national minimum wage fell far below the amount needed by workers to sustain themselves from the rising cost of living and indirect taxes.

The SODELPA parliamentarian said the plight of civil servants had also been worsened under the threat of civil servant reforms with workers dreading the prospect of being laid off at any minute.

He also said the removal of local labour from certain industries and replacing them with foreigners and limitations to freedom of expression had also stifled workers in the country.

When contacted by this newspaper yesterday, Mr Usamate said he would issue a statement.

“I will release a statement next week on these issues to correct all issues raised,” he said.

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