Vatukoula Gold Mines work issues

Fiji Trades Union Congress national secretary Felix Anthony. Picture: FILE

“IF the issues faced by workers at the Vatukoula Gold Mines are not addressed with urgency, we will consider industrial action and even make it an international issue.”

This was the word from Fiji Trades Union Congress national secretary Felix Anthony.

“People have died and have been electrocuted, how much more do I have to say about the serious safety concerns at Vatukoula,” he said.

“I am surprised that the mine is allowed to continue operations when there are clearly issues with workers’ safety.

“The industrial relations climate in Vatukoula is also bad.

“We have been attempting to negotiate collective agreements for more than a year and a half and there has been no success on that front.

“Mine workers — who are exposed to some of the most dangerous working environments in the country — have had no wage adjustments for more than a decade.

“Workers are fed up of being forced to work in an unsafe environment, being ill-treated and serious safety concerns being ignored for so long.

“It is coming to a head and something serious needs to be done about the mining industry. We should be ashamed that we have the longest running strike that also involves Vatukoula mine workers — 27 years and counting — still unresolved.

“If this issue is not taken seriously by the company, then we will consider taking industrial action and even making it an international issue.”

Questions sent to Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate on the comments made by Mr Anthony on Saturday, June 16 and again yesterday remained unanswered.

Questions sent to Vatukoula Gold Mines on Thursday, June 14 and Saturday, June 16 on the claims made by Mr Anthony remained unanswered as well.

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