Govt Looks At Jobs In Canada: Konrote

Government is looking at possibilities of sending Fijians to work in Canada. Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jioji Konrote, made this announcement at the Top Executive (TOPEX) Conference
04 Oct 2015 13:03
Govt Looks At Jobs In Canada: Konrote
From left: Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation CEO Nesbitt Hazelman, Fiji Trade Union Congress general secretary Felix Anthony and Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jioji Konrote at the TOPEX Conference yesterday. Photo: DEPTFO NEWS

Government is looking at possibilities of sending Fijians to work in Canada.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jioji Konrote, made this announcement at the Top Executive (TOPEX) Conference at the Warwick Fiji, on the Coral Coast yesterday.

“When the PM came back from Canada not so long ago, I have been tasked to look at possibility of sending people to Canada,” he said.

He said this would follow the same arrangement as the seasonal workers sent to New Zealand and Australia.

“I have a mandate given to me to try to reduce unemployment rate in Fiji which currently stands at six to seven per cent, if we can, to five per cent next year,” he said.

“We have 45,000 people registered with NEC who are unemployed and are looking for jobs. How are we going to address that? “Part of the solution is and thanks to the Australian and New Zealand Government through the recognized seasonal workers scheme, we have been able to tap onto their labour market and as we speak, we have the first group of workers come back from Australia under the pilot scheme.

“From all accounts and reports, it would appear that they have done very well and we are looking forward to the New Zealand government opening up door more widely so we can send more people.

“Similarly, we signed MOU with Australians at the beginning of this year and the first group that went down are just about to complete their probation period and as we speak, we are in the process of sending down more people.

“At the moment, we have got about 60 down in Australia and 12 in New Zealand. But, that is only part of the solution. But, trying to create jobs, as a minister, I am very thankful that Government  has started issuing grants to a number of entrepreneurs here in Fiji who

would hopefully start up their business and employ more Fijians.

“The solution for our employment problems rest with us. Because of the fact that Oz and NZ have tried to help with labour mobility policy, in that way we are most grateful.

“Creating more jobs- at the moment, the building industry is picking up but we have a problem. We have not got enough skilled and qualified trades people hence Government’s proposal to set up more technical colleges in Fiji. As we speak, three have been set up and Government is looking at another ten by next year.”



Talking about productivity:

“We tried to create a good work environment and in that we are trying to help, from a social-justice point of view, improving our workers. Government has increased national minimum wage from $2 to $2.32 and that applies to all our employers from 1 July. About 100,000 workers and their families around the country will benefit from this. There is more to be done here.


Industrial Relations:

“Since the ERP 2007,  we have managed to avoid and amicably settle some threats of people to go on strike. We have only had one record of people going on strike in 2008. Not too long ago, there were a group of truck drivers in the West who threatened to go on strike but thankfully, we had the issue resolved internally between them and the Fiji Sugar Corporation and mills.

“As you may know from the beginning of this year, when we were in Geneva, we managed to sign the tripartite agreement and managed to get some breathing space. ILO had sent a fact finding mission to Fiji to have a look at how we do things and report to Geneva.

“We managed to sign the agreement in March and we were expected to come back to ILO in June with a joint progress report but we could not so we have been given another chance until November.

“And, for your information, we have about two weeks to work together and to submit a joint report to Geneva before the ILO Governing Body meeting in November.

“The bottom line is that if we don’t satisfy the ILO and the governing body, there is a likelihood of a Commission of Inquiry slapped against Fiji. I am having a lot of sleepless nights until the joint report is done. I cannot lose any more hair. By the end of the day, I am an optimist. I have great confidence in this country that despite our differences and perceptions, by the end of the day, we have good faith to work together.”



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