24 Oct 2006

400 casual workers in Fiji lose their jobs due to cost of living payments

8:56 am on 24 October 2006

About 400 casual workers employed by Fiji's Public Works Department for road upgrading have lost their jobs because of Cost of Living Adjustments or COLA paid to 25,000 other civil servants.

The Fiji Times reports that the PWD has stopped all road works and upgrading projects around the country because 10-million US dollars of its allocated budget was taken back by the finance ministry to pay increases given to public servants

The chief executive of the ministry of works, Anasa Vocea, says there is no more money for any road works for the rest of the year.

Mr Vocea says 3-million US dollars in suspension fees would have to be paid to four companies who contract on the Kings Road upgrading project has been put on hold.

The general secretary of the Public Employees Union Pita Delana, is threatening strike action if any more members are laid off.

Mr Delana says mass redundancies to facilitate the payment of Cost of Living and Performance Management increases are unacceptable.

Last month the government was forced to divert 17-point-5 million US dollars from the national budget to meet pay increases granted before the May general election which had not been planned for.