NEWS

200 Jobs Secure At Waiqele Sawmill Pte Limited: Director

This is despite an ongoing dispute among the directors and shareholders of the family owned business.
23 Jan 2020 15:30
200 Jobs Secure At Waiqele Sawmill Pte Limited: Director
Waiqele Sawmill Pte Limited director Ahmed Begg at work in Labasa on January 22, 2020 . Photo: Shratika Naidu

Two hundred employees at Waiqele Sawmill Pte Limited in Labasa are being assured by a director that their jobs are secured.

This is despite an ongoing dispute among the directors and shareholders of the family owned business.

One of the directors, Aziz Beg said he informed the workers not to report to work on Monday because he claims the other director Ahmed Begg had frozen company bank accounts at ANZ, Bred Bank and Bank of Baroda.

“We were depositing money into Bank of Baroda until they contacted me last Friday saying that Ahmed wrote a letter to the bank to freeze the account,” Mr Beg said .

“I had no choice but to contact the employees last Saturday through mobile phone telling them not to come to work. Since the bank accounts are frozen the company cannot pay the workers.”

According to Mr Beg; “Mr Ahmed ‘s directorship was terminated last year,” he said.

“Subsequently, Mr Ahmed challenged his termination of directorship and obtained ex-parte orders for his re-instatement.”

“After the full hearing of the application, the Court cancelled its previous orders.

“As far as I am concerned and the Company is concerned, Mr Ahmed’s tenure as a director ceased.

“The substantial dispute is still before the Courts.

“I have contacted our lawyer and he is looking into all as he has no authority to operate the Company and how can a business operate with all its bank accounts frozen,” he said.

“I formed the company in 1969 and I have always put up a good reputation, investing into the Fiji economy being the second largest Sawmill in the country,” Mr Beg said .

“Hence, I am doing whatever I can to solve conflicts as this has disturbed our business , employee relationships, suppliers and stakeholders trust. ”

The director in question Ahmed Begg, said his uncle (Aziz Beg) claims are not valid.

“I didn’t ‘t write letters to banks to freeze accounts,” Mr Begg said.

“Instead, I raised my concern to the banks to check how payments were made without my signature since I am still one of the shareholders.

“Following my query the bank decided to freeze the account and gave us time to return to them with feedback.

“I am still waiting for my uncle to have discussion with me but he decided to close the mill operation by sending workers home.”

“When the workers informed me about this, I immediately came from Suva and told them to resume work and I will work out something to pay their wages ,” he said.

“I confirm that we are having some family disputes.

“I have told them , my uncle and cousins who are the shareholders to put aside personal grudges and and work together to run the business.”

 

Mr Ahmed Begg also outlined the humble beginning of the company.

“For those who are not aware let me tell you that this business was setup at Dogoru, Labasa in 1969 by two brothers Nasib Begg (aka-Jaffar) and Aziz Beg.

“They both had 50 percent shares.My father was the second eldest of ten siblings.”

In 1979 the company got registered after moving to Qelewaqa .

“When Nasib , who is my father passed away in 1985, my mother, Hazara Khatoon became the shareholder.”

Since she was illiterate and sickly, she made me, the eldest of ten children , the power of attorney.

“I started working in this company after finishing Year 12 from Labasa College.”

Mr Begg said his job was to use spade to pick up saw dust.

“My father then sent me to New Zealand to acquire Certificate in Saw-milling and Timber Machining in 1983.

“Since then I have been working in the company.”

Feedback: shratikan@fijisun.com.fj

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