FIJI SUPERMARKET WORKERS SEEK UNION REPRESENTATION

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Daily Post, April 17) - Supermarket workers in Fiji want to have union representatives to fight their cause following claims of inhumane treatment from their employers.

Workers who complained to the Fiji Daily Post say their employers have given them raw deals and were interested to have a union.

But the workers feared victimization and want the Ministry of Labor to act on their grievances and not side with their employers.

Complaints received included the following: overtime work not paid—workers are only paid 45 hours per week even if they work over 60 hours; sick leave not paid, even if sick sheets and medical reports are produced; compensation not paid for staff who get injured while working; and no proper notice given if a staff is to be terminated.

A Ministry of Labor official said yesterday that they would act if they received individual complaints.

"We act when we receive complaints and most of the time we get them individually," the official said.

Senior Labor official Vimlesh Maharaj was unavailable to comment since he was in a meeting.

Two staff supermarket employees in Suva confirmed yesterday that they had received inspection teams from the Labor Department two weeks ago.

"The Labor officials came to interview us, took our time records and went away. Some of them told us that they were inspecting the supermarkets because they had received complaints," one worker said.

Last week a staff at a major supermarket in downtown Suva was sent home without notice after making a mistake.

A fellow colleague told Fiji Daily Post that the cashier had not recorded the sale of two products, which were in the trolley because the customer concerned did not identify the products.

A senior staff saw the customer take the products away and reported the matter to his superior.

"The cashier concerned was counting money and was shocked when approached by our boss who told her that she was being fired, accusing her of intentionally not keying in the product to be paid for," the staff said. "That’s the type of treatment we have to go through and our employers just do what they want."

The manager of the supermarket declined to comment on the issue.

The Labor Department said workers would have to liaise with their employers first before they can set up a union.

Workers who spoke to this newspaper said they were planning to write to the Anti-Corruption Unit and deputy military Commander, Captain Esala Teleni.

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