300 CHINESE WORKERS COMING TO FIJI

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Skilled workers to work at hydro power project

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 29, 2009) – About 300 skilled Chinese workers will be issued permits to work at the Nadarivatu hydro project under the Sino-Hydro Corporation.

Immigration director Major Nemani Vuniwaqa confirmed this yesterday, saying it was made possible through a memorandum of understanding between the Fiji Government and the Chinese State-owned company, Sino-Hydro Corporation.

He said the deal allowed the company to bring in up to 300 skilled workers who had been contracted for the project.

"The skilled workers were brought in because the company has a time-frame to complete the project," he said.

"We are not aware of claims by the Construction, Energy and Timber Workers Union and the Nadarivatu hydro project landowners' council," he said.

"We are only aware that Chinese nationals are being brought in as skilled workers at the Nadarivatu hydro project.

"All the applications for the Chinese personnel's work permits are received, processed and issued from this office."

Major Vuniwaqa said as far as his department was concerned, the Chinese nationals identified by the parent company, Sino-Hydro, were skilled people whose work permits were issued from the Immigration Department.

"We must understand that a MOU was agreed upon in the first place detailing the number of skilled workers coming in from China," Major Vuniwaqa said.

"So far we have issued up to 100 work permits and we do not see the need for investigations to be conducted.

"However, should there be a breach in the working conditions such as OHS for example, then it should be referred to the Labour Ministry.

"After an investigation is conducted, and it has been verified, we will take the necessary steps. For any immigration issues, we will deal with it straight away.

"Claims that the number of Chinese nationals is about or even more than 200 men has to be substantiated and verified because in total we have processed about 100 work permits to date.

"The work permits committee seats every week and we are expecting more to come in."

Major Vuniwaqa was responding to concerns by union secretary John Paul and Nadarivatu hydro project landowners' council spokesman, Apenisa Laweloa, on the vast increase in Chinese nationals at the Nadarivatu hydro project site.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

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