13 Nov 2006

Standoff beween Fiji government and military hits hotel workers

11:04 am on 13 November 2006

The impasse between the Fiji government and its military is beginning to have tangible effects with resorts in the western division laying off casual and seasonal workers.

The Sunday Times reports that hotel occupancy rates have dropped from the usual 80 to 90% at this time of the year to around 50% as hotels lose millions of dollars in cancelled advance bookings.

The president of the National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Industry Employees, Mikaele Ruru, says low occupancy caused by the impasse has caused the lay-offs.

Mr Ruru says if the impasse continues, hoteliers will be forced to reduce the working hours of the remaining employees most of whom are indigenous Fijians.

He says the prime minister and the military commander should not use the Fijian people for their political mileage but solve the impasse so that employees who have lost their jobs can feed their families again.

Apart from low occupancy, hotels and resorts are reporting cancellations of advanced bookings and low forward bookings with some hotels saying there have been no new reservations from November to April next year.