GOVERNMENT EARMARKS $357,000 FOR FIJI MINE WORKERS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 1) – The Fiji government will allocate FJ$600,000 [US$357,000] to fund a rehabilitation programme for the redundant Emperor Gold Mine workers at Vatukoula.

The programme is to rehabilitate both groups of workers that were made redundant in 2006 and 1991.

Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Productivity, Bernadette Rounds Ganilau told a Cabinet meeting yesterday that the closure of the 72-year old gold mine (in December last year) had significant economic and social impacts to the nation, particularly the mine workers and their families.

A total of 1,639 mine workers including management staff who lost their jobs will be paid their redundancy packages and last pay from the EGM company at the end of February 2007.

Ganilau explained that the rehabilitation strategies are based on the results of a survey conducted by the Labour Ministry on December 29 last year.

"The survey, which covered a total of 190 redundant workers, out of the total 1639 mine workers including management staff, comprised about 7.2 per cent of the total which is a valid representative sample."

Ganilau said that based on the survey, the Vatukoula rehabilitation programme will focus on farming, self- employment, small business development, targeted skills training, start-up assistance and repayment of assistance.

The implementation of the Vatukoula miners' rehabilitation programme will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Productivity.

The Vatukoula Mine Workers Rehabilitation Programme will be implemented over a 12 months period.

Quarterly progress reports will be presented to Cabinet through government's EGM Closure Negotiating Committee.

Site visits will be organised and conducted specifically for the Vatukoula rehabilitation programme.

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