Job Loss Fear
October 28, 2021
NFP asks who’s in charge of FRCS
Staff of Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) are working under a cloud of fear and uncertainty after having been told this week of loss of a further 110 jobs, said the National Federation Party.
NFP Vice-President and Opposition Member of Parliament Lenora Qereqeretabua said staff are reportedly also confused as to who is in charge of FRCS after not being given clear signals on why the “purge” is happening.
“Last year 83 frontline border staff, mainly Customs Officers were made redundant. Government hid behind its Act of God definition of the Covid-19 pandemic and tried to use closure of borders to justify the lay-offs”.
“However, we have been reliably informed that now FRCS is recruiting customs officers or frontline border staff following the planned re-opening of the borders in little over a month”.
“But these workers are being employed on what we believe to be a three month contract or a temporary basis. Given the importance of ensuring our porous borders do not result in leakages, we ask if those to be hired for this task are trained former staff made redundant or new recruits without any experience or training”.
“This haphazard recruitment on a temporary basis of workers to carry out one of the most tasks in maintaining border security has fuelled fear about job security and the future outlook of an organisation that is critically important to the state of a nation’s treasury”.
“We recall that in December last year, following the redundancy of border staff, FRCS called for Expressions of Interest for voluntary redundancy”.
“At that time it was revealed that 25% of the workforce would be made redundant, which is 230 to 260 staff members”.
“Following unsatisfactory response by staff, the voluntary redundancy offer was once again dangled as a carrot in February this year”.
“The issue seemed to have taken a back seat until suddenly a few weeks ago. We are told that at least 35 staff have been identified and individually called to be informed that they are no longer needed”.
“We are further told that these staff members were basically marched out of the FRCS headquarters beyond its perimeter gate with no consideration whatsoever given to their many years of loyalty and service”.
“We are dealing with human beings. We are talking about many who are sole breadwinners putting food on the table for their children and families. We are talking about those who ensure that their honesty, integrity, hard work and loyalty results in government collecting every possible dollar for the State’s coffers”.
“Due to the climate of fear, uncertainty and the state of confusion, we ask: - “
1. Who at FRCS is responsible for decisions that cut to pieces the livelihood of staff who have been lauded under PMS – Performance Management System – for their work ethics and productivity?”
2. Whether FRCS CEO has told staff in her briefing sessions that the Directors – who report to the CEO and come under her control – are responsible for identifying 110 staff members to be sent home and that she doesn’t know anything?
3. Whether two of the Directors responsible have any experience in dealing with human resource?
4. Whether their appointments, acting or otherwise, was based on merit?
5. Whether one of the Directors, while employed by FRCS as Chief Customs Officer based in Suva, had a letter of complaint against him sent to the then FRCS CEO in June 2018, alleging demeaning behaviour of threatening, ridiculing and intimidating staff?
6. Whether the FRCS Board and its Chair have sanctioned enforced redundancies?
“This disingenuous act is reprehensible. It is like taking away labourers from the vineyard because there are no grapes. Or simply in this case, the revenue collectors have no money to rake in for the State! “
“Is this the Bainimarama boom?