The Prime Minister’s statement that he would not get involved in the crisis at the Vatukoula mines shows his lack of compassion for the workers facing redundancy, Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.
“The jobs of 2000 workers are on the line and the Prime Minister says the crisis will sort itself out. This is a totally irresponsible attitude which shows that the PM and his government do not care about the sufferings of ordinary people,” Mr Chaudhry said.
It is a rehash of the insensitive attitude adopted by his government last year when 5000 garment workers were laid off. The government did not lift a finger to try and save these jobs even though it knew beforehand that the US quota was going to be withdrawn and would result in massive job losses.
It is the responsibility of any caring government to take every step to save jobs and guard against redundancies. The socio-economic implications of the closure of the mines for six months would be devastating.
It is not only the future of the miners and their families at stake, but that of the entire Tavua town and its people, because of their heavy dependence on the activities of the gold mines, Mr. Chaudhry said.
“The people of Fiji must take note of the government’s “don’t care” attitude.
This is what they will continue to get if the SDL is elected back into office,” he warned.
It is quite clear that Emperor is adopting the South African strategy here – close the mines, make everyone redundant and then recruit a handful of workers to maximise profits.
“Emperor has enjoyed massive tax and duty free concessions over the years. It has a social responsibility to this country and its workers. It cannot act like a colonial overlord, engaging willy nilly in massive redundancies without looking at its far reaching implications.
“The government must step in and save the jobs. Or provide assistance to affected families until they are re-absorbed into the work force,” Mr. Chaudhry said.