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September 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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About 15,000 Fijian jobs will be lost if Fiji is removed from the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme, says the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali.

Ali said certain trade unions are threatening local jobs by asking the United Sates to punish Fiji for its labour reforms.

“On average there are five persons per household in Fiji, the loss of 15,000 jobs would mean loss of support and livelihood to potentially 75,000 Fijian citizens,” he said.

He said that the impact will be felt at grass-root level as most of the workers in these factories are women and are the sole breadwinners in their family.

 “If these unions have their way, 39 Fijian companies which now export range of products will lose their preferential access and benefits from the US GSP Scheme. This will mean agriculture, garments, and mineral water sector will lose their businesses, and these include small and medium enterprises that export niche products to the US.”

Ali said the Bainimarama Government has worked hard to persuade certain union leaders to accept the need for labour reform.

“Across a broad front, the Government is acting to re-invigorate government owned enterprises to protect existing jobs and create new ones.”

He said they are acting to lift wages and standards of employment, not keep Fijians in the straightjacket imposed on them by union leaders who place their own interests ahead of their members.

By Ropate Valemei

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