31 Oct 2003

Fiji Labour Party says sugar bill means return to colonial days

4:27 pm on 31 October 2003

The Fiji Labour Party says sugar cane farmers will be no better off than their forebears under colonial rule if the government's proposed sugar industry restructure goes ahead.

The bill proposes the abolition of the Sugar Commission, the Sugar Industry Tribunal, the Sugar Cane Growers Council as well as the Master Award, which governs all aspects of relations between farmers and the mostly state-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation.

Labour Party spokesman, Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, says the draft is a recipe for destroying the rights of the farmers.

"It is a formula that will sell out the farmers which means farmers will have to serve another Girmit. Girmit is a term used to identify those indentured labourers who came here to work here under the colonial masters and they had to face enormous hardship and if this bill is passed this will be second to this Girmit."

Mr Vayeshnoi says farmers will not sit back and let the government bulldoze through legislation which does not protect their interests.