6 Oct 2008

Forestry operators in Fiji to meet interim regime over huge royalty hikes

6:29 am on 6 October 2008

Fiji's 3000 forestry workers have secured a temporary reprieve to plans that could have seen the end of their employment.

Fiji's Sawmillers' Association was planning to halt harvesting operations, if the Department of Forests didn't back down on plans to raise royalties anywhere from 56 percent to 270 percent

Now the sawmillers association and the interim government have agreed to hold further talks over timber royalties.

The Association's president, Jay Dayal, says after meeting on Friday, the association agreed to write a proposal for the ministry and the native lands trust board, and they will meet again on Thursday.

"The fact is that we were never consulted or we never agreed to the rates that they have proposed, or that they have imposed on us. So these rates are just going to stay there for the time being and I have a strong feeling that they will probably remove or withdraw the majority of the increments on certain classes."

Jay Dayal says the association will make an assessment after the meeting on Thursday on whether to continue with production.