Our Absenteeism Rate Is Off The Richter Scale, Says Employer. Especially Mondays

As the end of the week approaches, echoes of the commonly used phrase Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) can be heard. But what happens after waking up to a Monday
31 Aug 2017 13:19
Our Absenteeism Rate Is Off The Richter Scale, Says Employer. Especially Mondays
Minister of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate

As the end of the week approaches, echoes of the commonly used phrase Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) can be heard.

But what happens after waking up to a Monday morning after a long weekend of relaxing?

For some, ‘Calling in Sick’ has become a widely chosen option.

Complaints on the high rate of absenteeism were brought to the Minister of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate’s attention yesterday during the Textile Clothing and Footwear Council of Fiji (TFC) annual general meeting at Suva’s Fiji Club.

Former Council president Kaushik Kumar said: “Absenteeism has now become a huge issue for the industry.

“Most of the factories are reporting that the absenteeism rate is from 15-20% especially on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“Friday is the best because it is pay day but Mondays and Tuesdays are terrible,” said Mr Kumar.

Mr Kumar believes workers need to be educated about their responsibilities towards their work and the importance of their attendance every day.

When workers do not come to work, the factory’s production drops thus preventing them from reaching their daily targets.

At the end of the week, shipment of their products are affected as factories are not able to meet the client’s demands.

Too much absenteeism is affecting our local industry, says newly elected Council president Mike Towler.

During the discussion with Mr Usamate, members of the Council provided suggestions on how to curb this issue.

One of them suggested that workers be paid their original wage per week but not be paid at an hourly rate.

Instead, to discourage workers from calling in sick on Mondays and Tuesdays, employers may increase the pay rate on Mondays and Tuesdays then decrease it on days when workers are hardly absent, that is on Wednesday to Friday.

However, another member stated that workers will call in sick on Wednesdays to Fridays.

Despite the solutions that were brainstormed during the discussion, according to Mr Towler, a proper solution cannot be born in just one discussion.

However, Mr Towler suggested that students in primary and secondary school should be taught the importance of punctuality and attendance.

“We need to start having programmes in schools that educate students the importance of attending work on time and performing well while at work rather than just coming and probably sometimes leaving your mind somewhere else,” said Mr Towler.

According to Mr Towler, too many workers call in sick or they are not bothered to come to work.

After hearing the deliberations made by the members, Mr Usamate invited the Council for a round table discussion to solve this issue.


National Minimum Wage Rate

As we approach the upcoming General Elections, political parties have stated different wage rates in their manifestos.

According to Mr Towler, having a $4-5 wage rate will “decimate our industry”.

His aim is to actively engage with the Government to discuss the impacts of the national minimum wage rate in the local clothing, textile and footwear industry.

“We have to remain competitive with the South Asian countries. If we are going to remain competitive with them, then we have to increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and have a national minimum wage that keeps our industry competitive with markets like Australia and New Zealand.

“If we cannot be competitive in our own backyard, this industry will die. So we need to fully and actively engage with the Government,” said Mr Towler.

During Mr Usamate’s speech, he said the $2.68 National Minimum Wage will assist unskilled workers employed in sector such as the backyard garages, car wash, domestic work and other places where the national minimum wage applies.

He added the ten sectorial based minimum wages have also been reviewed and will increase thus providing extra income for the skilled and semi-skilled workers.

The national minimum wage will come into effect on September, according to Mr Usamate.


Market Update:

According to Mr Towler, the demand for the industry’s products is not good in Australia compared to New Zealand.

“It is a very competitive market place that we are competing in.

“We cannot compete on price because we do not have a source of raw material, so we have to import it all.

“Also, our wage rates are higher and our productivity is lower so we have to try and offer other services that gets these countries to give us their orders,” he added.

We are at an advantage in terms of our geographical location as our producers are close to the finish market, said Mr Towler.


AGM outcome:

A total of 12 executive committee members will be led by the newly elected president Mr Towler.

Mr Towler has been part of the Council for 20 years and is the managing director of Performance Floatation Developments (Fiji Ltd).

As the newly elected president, his main focus will be on advocating for a proper national minimum wage rate.




By workers:

Non-payment of wages according to the 10 Wages Regulations and National  Minimum Wage

Non-payment of annual holiday pay on termination or resignation of employment

Non-payment of sick leaves of 10 working days after completion of more than 3 months of service even though workers provide a valid sick sheet

Non-payment of gazetted public holiday pay

Termination of workers without providing reasons and termination letter


By employers:

Unskilled workers not willing to learn modern methods of employment in particular, sales

Reliability of workers to carry out the duty themselves without any supervision

Absenteeism from  work and not advising employers on time

Productivity at work site (majority of the employees are physically present but not willing to go the extra mile to do any work)

Not enough trained workforce to enter the job market who can start work immediately with minimum supervision




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