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Letters To The Editor, 11th October 2017

Letters To The Editor, 11th October 2017
October 11
16:30 2017

Thank you, A-G

E T Smith,  Davuilevu

Bravo, A-G Sayed-Khaiyum for highlighting the plight of bus drivers!

Good on you sir. These practices such as not paying FNPF would have easily continued and these bus drivers would have been at a huge disadvantage if e-Ticketing had not been introduced. Thank you.

Bus drivers, please take advantage of this. Reach out to the A-G’s Office if you have not had your FNPF contributions deducted for all these years.

You need to recognise the importance of your superannuation. You will need it when  you retire. Thank you again A-G.

Don’t be fooled, drivers

Senaca Nabutu,  Naulu

It is outrageous that bus drivers have not been losing out of their sick leaves, Fiji National Provident Fund contribution and many other benefits. It is good that this has come up now. I see that some unionists have only now turned to look at bus drivers as their members.

My question to you is where were you all these years? Shame on you for ignoring the plight of these drivers for decades now. Now with the introduction of e-Transport, some unionists with their own agenda are wanting to come up to recruit drivers as their members.

You are not doing justice, you are playing on emotions. Do not be hoodwinked by such unionists, bus drivers.

They did not seem to have had any interest in you till after the big hoobaloo about eTransport. Come to think of it, this initiative has come back to help you drivers.

High sick leave

Leone Nayacalevu, Deuba

I refer to the Fiji Sun headline on Saturday October 7, 2017 on the above subject.

I agree that excessive sick leave and regular no-shows by employees on Mondays are real concerns for employers given its direct impact on overall productivity. However, the article fell short of addressing a number of equally important factors to give balance to the story.

On average, public sector employers provide more sick leave entitlement to workers while it is much lower in the private sector. However, the article did not specify whether the 40-50 sick leave days reported was a one-off or whether this was a recurring trend. The story also did not indicate what percentage of employees fell in this category. In general, productivity can be affected by many factors apart from absenteeism – these include the work environment, the culture at work, leadership, morale and incentives, to name a few. A low wage rate could also be a contributing factor to high absenteeism. The high sick leave reported is shocking and seems to indicate that managers have not done enough and could have been more pro-active through earlier intervention – referring employees concerned for counselling or undergoing independent medical checks. Employers just need to closely monitor sick leave taken on a systematic basis.

To make ends meet, management can rearrange work as well and share the work with those present. As a last resort, the employment law is always there for an employer to exercise their right to dismiss an employee for habitual absence or being medically unfit to work. The minimum for sick leave (10 days) is also provided under the current employment laws thus employers can put in place policies such as demanding sick sheet from employees or placing regular high absentees on notice to deter such behaviour.

As an incentive, some employers now reward employees with low sick leave records. In addition, the article seems to imply that if one takes more sick leaves, the employee would expect less pay increase. Such a statement is not totally valid and can be misleading given pay rises generally depend on a number of factors including the individual’s performance and how the organisation performed as a whole against the performance framework of the organisation – and not just sick leave taken.  In addition, the statement made that there is a deteriorating work culture in Fiji is quite exaggerated. Compared to a decade ago, most workplaces in Fiji have increasingly introduced new productivity standards, quality management principles and business excellence practices in their workplace. The many leadership development opportunities, increased workplace collaboration and appreciation for wellness and safety have all contributed to a more positive and inclusive work culture. Undoubtedly, external factors will always have some bearing on efforts to better manage absence and raising productivity.

Although presenteeism is a related issue, the lack of local data for comparison makes the findings as stated too overwhelming for our purposes. What needs to happen is for employers to continue to raise the standards for productivity, strengthen leaders’ capacity, build partnerships, encourage innovation and create an engaging and rewarding work environment, which is well within their means. Subject to the ability to pay, employers should also strive to pay wages relative to equally decent work. This can motivate people to go the extra mile, be more committed to work and empower them to work smarter and do more with less. Productivity is a journey and our collective efforts will be what matters at the end. As the saying goes, “if your presence doesn’t make an impact, then your absence won’t make a difference.”

e-Ticketing transparency

Dewan Chand,  Suva

I write to commend the Government for introducing e-Ticketing on all buses with effect from October 1, 2017.

The biggest beneficiary of this exercise is transparency, transparency at all levels. The bus operators will have their income fairly assessed and pay tax according to the law in place.

They will no longer have to worry about the stealing by their drivers. The drivers will no longer be accused of stealing as perpetually alleged by the bus operators. They will now be paid fair wages and be entitled to all the benefits such as over-time payments, meal allowances, sick leave, bereavement leave and bonuses etc. The stigma of being labelled as a thief will be removed and they will be able to live in dignity with their families and in society. Perhaps they will have better night’s sleep as well. The travelling public will know that they are dealing with an honest driver.

The Government will collect fair taxes and this will be ploughed back into improving infrastructure and other facilities for the general good of the Fijian people. Thus the entire country will benefit from the fruits of e-Ticketing. The Government has allowed duty free importation of good quality air conditioned buses and the travelling public now enjoy comfortable bus rides. There are opportunities for further improvements.

There have been teething problems with the introduction of this new technology but I am sure all outstanding issues will be sorted out quickly in the interest of all stake holders. The people who are currently opposed to this technology will soon realise that it is very empowering indeed. There is no option but to accept reality of the business world and to move along with the times.

And the Fiji Sun staff too

Geeta Pillay,  Suva

Happy Fiji Day to all Fijians and to the hardworking staff members of Fiji Sun.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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