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Employment Decline Reaches 20,000

Issue No: 607 21 March 2001

The loss of jobs due to terrorist activities of 2000 and the continuing political instability engendered by Laisenia Qarase, has reached 20,000.

Job losses have continued in the country since 19 May as businesses began laying off workers due to downsizing or outright closure. While the Qarase regime has been basking in fictitious figures about the economy, the nation continues to see factory and business closure by the day.

In one urban area, 34 businesses closed since 19 May. The trend is not much different in other towns.

Garment factories have been closing this year on an average of one per fortnight. This week another garment factory, United Apparel announced the laying off of 250 workers in Suva. The Forum Shoes Limited has also now publicly stated that it has laid off 200 workers in its Ba factory, maintaining now only 20 workers. It has also announced that it has laid off workers in its Lautoka factory; the number laid off is not known.

In addition to this, most businesses are now employing workers on reduced time basis, and many have reduced wages by as much as 50%.

Recent estimate of workers laid off since 19 May shows that the figure has topped 20,000. The most important feature of all this is that people of all ethnic groups comprise those laid off. Thus, while the terrorists and the Qarase regime have been harping about ethnic Fijian supremacy, they have not been able to provide bread to the ordinary ethnic Fijian worker. The story is a repeat of 1987 when Rabuka and the subsequent regimes continued to harp about ethnic Fijian supremacy while the ordinary worker, or all ethnic groups, began suffering greater poverty and misery.

The Qarase regime is now trying to buy off ethnic Fijian support through its Blueprint program. But prominent ethnic Fijians, including those from the SVT, now claim that the program is for elite ethnic Fijians only.


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