Parliament

Motion defeated for independent audit on safety of sugar mill workers

A motion moved by Opposition member Hon. Prem Singh was defeated this afternoon in parliament.  The motion was for the independent audit of the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Mills focusing on mill operations and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) procedures in light of five accidents resulting in two deaths. SINGH: “Madam Speaker, the FSC Executive Chairman commented in the […]

Salote Qalubau

May 31, 2016 5:00 pm

A motion moved by Opposition member Hon. Prem Singh was defeated this afternoon in parliament. 

The Attorney-General and Minister of Finance Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Opposition MP Hon. Prem Singh. (Peni Shute/Newswire)
The Attorney-General and Minister of Finance Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Opposition MP Hon. Prem Singh. (Peni Shute/Newswire)

The motion was for the independent audit of the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s Mills focusing on mill operations and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) procedures in light of five accidents resulting in two deaths.

SINGH: “Madam Speaker, the FSC Executive Chairman commented in the media that health and safety regulations are not being adhered to by mill workers. He has clearly shifted blame and ignored the failure of FSC to strictly adhere to and implement provisions of Health and Safety at Work Act of 1996.”

Hon. Singh said FSC has been sidestepping the fundamental issue of whether there are properly established Occupational Health and Safety Committees at each of the four mills.

SINGH: “Madam Speaker, I believe that given the spate of accidents at the mills, Occupational Health and Safety for procedures as well as committees are dysfunctional.”

Hon. Singh added that an inquiry would determine whether OHS workplace committees in the mills are properly established with workers representatives leading them as required by OHS regulations and suitable monetary compensations.

SINGH: “Madam Speaker that is why I call upon this Parliament to approve this Motion. There should be an independent investigation into the state of preparedness of the mills as far as health and safety issues are concerned.”

Opposition member Hon. Niko Nawaikula agreed that the independent audit should be conducted.

NAWAIKULA: “Madam Speaker this is sad that we have these state of affairs in the sugar industry.The blame falls on the government for bad management. Money allocated is used elsewhere, this is why I support this motion that is before the house.”

In response to Hon Nawaikula’s comment Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Hon. Semi Koroilavesau said the matter should not be exaggerated.

KOROILAVESAU: “The probability of deaths depends on activities one participates in. The Ministry has collaborated with FSC to develop and comprehend OHS policies. The health and safety of workers are based on the philosophy that those who create risk and those who work near risks need to address these issues. There is no need for an independent audit to be carried out.”

The Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who did not support the motion said despite the deaths being tragic events the Ministry of Labour was capable of conducting its own investigations.

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “We feel for these families and loved ones, FSC has put a coherent plan in place to tighten procedures by training staff to ensure rules and procedures are followed. The motion is being used to politicise the issue.

Opposition member Hon. Viliame Gavoka said he supported the motion as the sugar mills were in need of attention.

GAVOKA: “These fatalities are related to the quality of equipment probably they are old and outdated and contribute to these accidents. Part of these problems is also pressure on people to perform when equipment is old.”

The motion was defeated after a total of twenty-eight members voted to defeat the motion, sixteen members agreed while the remaining six did not vote.

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