2 Jul 2020

Fiji unions, employers agree to help redundant workers amid 'dire situation'

4:50 pm on 2 July 2020

The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) have signed a bipartite initiative to support redundant workers in micro-businesses.

A typical street scene in Nadi, Fiji

A typical street scene in Nadi, Fiji Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

The FTUC said the Transition to Business (T2B) project targets redundant formal sector workers who are trying to start their own operations to build their capacity.

The International Labour Organisation's Pacific Director, Matin Karimli, was at this week's signing in Suva.

He said guidance on how to survive the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was much needed.

"There's a 14 percent drop in the global working hours in the second quarter. This demonstrates how serious the situation is for the rest of the year but there's no clarity how the situation will develop."

Mr Karimli said an ILO survey showed many people had their employment status changed in some way by the pandemic.

He said previously, the ILO had forecasted about 305 million job losses in the second quarter globally.

But now it was more like 400 million.

The ILO's Matin Karimli

The ILO's Matin Karimli Photo: twitter / @MatinKarimli

T2B initiative

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony said the T2B initiative would provide business training, advisory and mentoring for the workers.

Mr Anthony said the preliminary findings of the recent assessment on the impact of Covid-19 on employment and business had provided the "impetus" for the FTUC and the FCEF to collaborate.

He said through the in-crisis rapid assessment, the FTUC found that "50 percent of its surveyed members had been made redundant and of those, 46 percent had ventured into self-employment".

FCEF president Sandeep Chauhan said the federation had developed a wealth of in-house experience and expertise in supporting micro-business and could contribute effectively to the project.

The tripartite parties also held discussions on how the FCEF and FTUC could further work together to assist redundant workers venturing into self-employment.

Felix Anthony

Felix Anthony Photo: RNZ