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We Do Not Lean on Employer or Employees, Says Usamate

We Do Not Lean on Employer  or Employees, Says Usamate
Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate meeting with the Labasa Chamber of Commerce at the Labasa Civic Centre highlighting the new national minimum wage rates for the 10 sectoral industries and discussing employment issues on September 27, 2017. Photo: SHRATIKA SINGH.
September 28
11:00 2017

“We have to make sure that the rights of the employees are protected and the employer has his business running”.


Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate has made it clear to the Labasa business operators that his ministry does not lean to either the employer or employees when dealing with issues or complaints.

“I want to reassure you that the role of my ministry is not to favour employers or employees,” Mr Usamate said while having a meeting with the Labasa Chamber of Commerce at Labasa Civic Centre yesterday.

“Our role is to stand in the middle and make sure that both parties get what they should get,” he said.

The relationship between the employer and employee is defined by the legislation.

“We must not lean to any party.

“We have to make sure that the rights of the employees are protected and the employer has his business running.

“I have received complaints against employers and employees alleging that my ministry is favouring the other party.

“I had a meeting with my staff in Labasa and I told them it is very important that we respect the rights of employers and employees,” he said.

“I am aware that some of the business operators in Labasa are facing difficulties when their workers leave their jobs without giving notice or resignation”.

The other issue that was highlighted was about wholesale retailers not paying the right wage.

“There are two separate pays and this is not  good practice”, he said.

Some companies are not giving compensation to their employees.

All companies must follow the Occupational Health and Safety policy (OHS) and have a committee in the company that can address OHS issues.”

Labasa Chamber of Commerce president Satish Kumar revealed that the common problem business operators were facing is when workers especially youngsters leave their jobs without giving proper notice.

“They are not adhering to clauses in the contract that is given to them,” Mr Kumar said.

“Some employees take loans and get things on credit.

“So when they leave we are in big dilemma because we have to find someone to train quickly and bear the cost left by them.”

Ministry for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations principal labour officer for north and west Eferemo Ratucoko responded saying that when such situation arises the employer can visit them and then they will approach the employee to sort things out.

“If the employee runs away and doesn’t want to adhere to the clauses of the contract that was given to him or her then we will forward the complaint to the Employment Relations Tribunal,” Mr Ratucoko said.

“The other thing the employer can do is withhold the employee’s pay if they fail to provide notice before leaving the job.”

Mr Usamate said employees leaving work without giving notice is a global issue.

“I do understand that even when you forward your complaint to the tribunal it will some time probably two years,” Mr Usamate said.

“So it is very important that when you make contract state clearly how many days, weeks or months notice you require and make your employee understand the conditions.”

Later during the day he had public consultation at Takia Hotel in Labasa.


Consultations in Savusavu

Mr Usamate is aware about the issues related to security companies in Fiji.

He revealed this after concluding two days of public consultation at five districts in the province of Cakaudrove. (Cakaudrove-Wai, Koroalau, Tawake, Saqani and Tunuloa)

Mr Usamate said issues with security companies were across Fiji.

“Issues such as security officers paid less than what is required,” Mr Usamate said.

“Some security companies have been taken to task by the Employment Relations Tribunal by making sure that they are paying the right wages to their employees.

There are other issues such as working conditions which we are looking at.”

Meanwhile, Mr Usamate said consultations this week have been useful as he got to hear a lot of issues related to his ministry and other ministries as well.

“We will continue with the consultation in Northern Division till Friday then move to central and western division next week,” he said.

“These (consultations) are in line with Government’s commitment to an open door policy and the importance in effectively and efficiently delivering its services to the people.

The purpose of these consultations is to meet with workers, employers, municipals and the public at large to highlight the new National Minimum Wage rate.

The minimum wage rates for the ten sectoral industries, new vision and mission statement of the Employment Ministry and to discuss employment issues that affect them.”

Edited by Mohammed Ali



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