Fiji : Mill workers struggle
huge sums of money and think nothing of it, claims trade unionist Felix Anthony.
The general secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress and Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union said it was appalling that while mill workers took home on average less than $150 a week, FSC executives were taking hundreds of thousands in directors fees alone.
"When mill workers ask for a pay increase they are told there is no money," he said.
"It is the height of corporate greed that FSC executives pocketed $2.4 million in directors fees while the miller is struggling and workers are being paid a pittance.
"The real wage of FSC mill workers has declined by 40 per cent and this is due to the reduction in the crushing season and rising cost of living."
During submissions on the Reform of the Sugar Cane Industry Bill, the National Farmers Union claimed that FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan and deputy chairman Marika Gaunavou had received $781,000 in 2012, $846,000 in 2013 and $791,000 in 2014 as directors fees.
Mr Khan responded to the NFU by saying details about directors fees was confidential information.
He said he would not comment any further on the issue.
After years of lobbying for an increment, the FSC awarded a pay rise of 5.3 per cent to all mill workers in 2013.
The pay increase came about after the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union members threatened to go on strike.
More than 2000 mill workers received the pay increase, access to health insurance and access to a special welfare fund.
Under the health insurance scheme, FSC pays for 50 per cent of the premium.
Mr Anthony said the 5.3 per cent pay rise did nothing to assist workers in meeting the rising cost of everyday groceries and daily cost of living.