Massive job loss
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
November 28, 2021
FRCS and Government hide behind "Act of God"
The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) is colluding with the Ministry of Employment to use COVID-19 pandemic’s definition as an “Act of God” to significantly reduce FRCS workforce, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said both Government and FRCS aren’t truthful about the real reason for the loss of over 200 jobs in addition to frontline workers on the borders, primarily customs officers laid off last year.
The NFP Leader said according to information which he received 162 FRCS staff have either been voluntarily or compulsorily made redundant and “40 more are being lined up to be axed”.
“FRCS is conveniently hiding behind Section 107 of the Employment Relations Act of 2007 (ERP), which in fact was promulgated via a Decree and automatically turned into an Act under the provisions of the 2013 Constitution without even reaching the floor of parliament for ratification”.
“Section 107 of ERP outlines redundancy due to economic, technological and structural measures. It also gives priority to securing of alternative employment or retraining of the worker made redundant. But this is not being complied at all by FRCS”.
“Instead, staff are marched outside the gate by security when told they have to go. Those who opt for voluntary redundancy or work till the last day of their contract until 20th December, 2021, are given a payment of $2,000 and a certificate apart from one week’s pay for each year of service”.
“No other alternative is provided to them. And the Employment Ministry is fully aware of the shenanigans by the FRCS Board and Acting CEO but as usual has chosen to remain silent while lives and careers of loyal workers are brutally cut short”.
“While digitisation and economic decline are provided as reasons to those booted out unceremoniously, the real reason for FRCS not complying fully with Section 107 of ERP is that the Act of God definition of Covid, rushed through parliament by the government in May last year, is the real reason for this inhumane treatment.”
“If digitisation is the reason, why senior staff are being culled? Is digitisation an end to end process to ensure there are no leakages in income?”
“Or is this to disguise massive reduction in government revenue despite the proposed re-opening of borders?”
“Whatever it may be, the fact remains that a few hundred workers do not know what the future holds for them”.
“They do not know how will they pay for their mortgages. They will find it impossible to retain their homes, hold on to their vehicles or maintain their payments for homeware just because they, through no fault of theirs, were kicked out of jobs because of political ambitions and decision making of the elite”.
“We therefore call on the Minister for Economy to direct the FRCS Board to stop this unjustified and unreasonable action to enforce redundancy”.
“There should be a proper and an independent assessment of FRCS because it is clear the current board is incapable of dealing with restructure in a humane and responsible manner”.
Professor Biman Prasad
(Encl: FRCS Redundancy Notice)