Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has expressed shock at the decision of Emperor Mines Ltd to close its Vatukoula operations for six months.
“I am even more shocked that the government should have withheld this kind of information from the people of Fiji, particularly the workers. Emperor will not take such a far-reaching decision without forewarning the government,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
The Opposition Leader expressed dismay that 1900 workers would be made redundant as a result of the closure of the mines.
Mr. Chaudhry called on government to provide assistance to the families of workers who have been laid off.
“In the current depressed state of the economy it would be very difficult for these workers to find jobs until the mine starts operating again. One can imagine the suffering and hardship their families would have to go through.
“It is government’s duty to minimise this suffering by providing State assistance to the affected families. Otherwise we will have another 10,000 people entering the poverty trap,” Mr. Chaudhry warned.
“Emperor’s decision to close operations for the next six months is very suspicious considering that they have just bought equity into the PNG mines,” he said.
And stated that Emperor had not negotiated in good faith with the Fiji Mine Workers Union with whom they were supposed to discuss the restructuring programme.