8 Mar 2007

Fiji mine workers call on military regime to take charge of sale of Vatukoula

4:18 pm on 8 March 2007

The Fiji mine workers union says the military-backed government must take responsibility for the sale of the country's only gold mine.

The union wants the government to block the sale because it believes those involved with the Emperor Gold Mining Company will continue to run it.

Emperor closed the mine at Vatukoula on the day of the military takeover last December and laid off over 1,700 workers.

The union wants the mine should sold to a company keen to resume operations quickly and re-employ the redundant miners.

The interim government says it promotes foreign investment and it would be inappropriate for it to interfere, other than to inform the parties of their legal obligations.

But the union's industrial relations adviser, Kavekini Navuso, says the interim administration has the final say over the sale.

"The land at Vatukoula is crown ground, therefore government property. Government issues the license to the intending company at its entire discretion. And the government therefore has the final authority and the right to choose the most desirable company."

Kavekini Navuso