NEWS

Kokomo Private Island Former Workers Claim Unfair Dismissal

According to the notice of termination, the reason was on the basis of redundancy because of adverse economic effects affecting the resort’s payroll.
12 Feb 2020 12:45
Kokomo Private Island Former Workers Claim Unfair Dismissal

Close to 60 employees from the Kokomo Private Island in Kadavu have claimed of unfair dismissal after having their employment contracts terminated earlier this month.

A barge belonging to the resort had transported the terminated employees into Suva in groups since the end of last month.

According to the notice of termination, the reason was on the basis of redundancy because of adverse economic effects affecting the resort’s payroll.

A terminated employee, Viliame Ikatamata, who was a former senior activities attendant, claimed that the resort failed to give the terminated staff members prior notice about the planned redundancies and termination of employees.

“The problem was they did not give us prior notice for us to at least prepare ourselves for the consequences of being unemployed,” he said.

“Some of us were just busy working when we were abruptly handed our notice of termination, unprofessionally done and not following formal procedures.

“Some of the notices were just given when the barge to pick us up from the island was ready to leave for Suva.

“Two staff that were currently on leave had their termination letters emailed to them.”

Mr Ikatamata was part of the third batch of terminated employees to arrive from the island on January 27.

“There should have been a grace period of one month or one week given to the workers to serve then they could be laid off by the resort, at least for us to look for other employment opportunities elsewhere.”

He said he had signed his contract for two years ending this April and had just signed his contract renewal for another two years last month before being terminated.

The termination letter noted that the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations was notified of the issues faced by the resort and laying off employees.

Ministry of Labour

When asked on the issue, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Osea Cawaru said: “The Ministry has received the report of redundancy from the management of Kokomo Private Island and we are currently investigating the matter as we speak.”

A copy of the letter  to an employee.

A copy of the letter to an employee.

Kokomo Private Island Resort

Kokomo Private Island general manager Martin Persson said the resort was going through a new phase of business and resourcing requirements were reduced.

“Kokomo’s workforce over the past three to four years was at an augmented level to support the development, construction and operation of the world-class 6 star resort, but with the construction nearing completion, the operation now established and the resort moving into its next phase, the resourcing requirements have reduced,” Mr Persson said.

“We have provided some people with redundancy packages in addition to their entitlements. We have made every effort to move staff into new roles where we can.”

Mr Persson said Kokomo had followed the right procedures in notifying the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations prior to carrying out the redundancies.

He said the management had always valued and appreciated its entire staff and the important contributions they had made to the resort.

“Kokomo currently still employs 300 people and we look forward to continuing to provide a world-class resort and highlighting the amazing experience of Fiji.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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