Kalesi Mele: Fiji Times
Sunday, March 26, 2017
THE Fiji Cane Growers Association (FCGA) says they had no funds to work with for several years since the removal of democratically elected members from the Sugar Cane Growers Council in 2008.
In tabling their 2016 financial reports, FCGA treasurer Kamlesh Kumar said last year the association had no funds and therefore were unable to conduct any activities.
FCGA re-elected president Attar Singh said with the removal of the council, the council levy system which was directed to their respective organisations was also removed.
The deductions of the levy used to be facilitated by the Fiji Sugar Corporation and directed to the council and respective associations.
Mr Singh said if both the State and FSC were genuine in seeking to assist farmers, they would reinstate the council levy system.
“We are very active and we used to contest elections and people used to sit in the growers council.
“This Government came in and decided to remove the check-off facilities, the levies that farmers used to collect from farmers.
“They have removed that levy facility to try and kill the voice of farmers.
“FSC no longer deducts that money and you would have heard that trade unions had a big fight where government was stopping the check-off.
“Now after a fight with the International Labour Organization, that check-off is restored. So everybody’s check-off is restored. Trade unions are restored but the check-off facility for canefarmers is yet to be restored.
“If FSC wants co-operation of farmers and if it wants to genuinely assist farmers then it has a duty to assist the farmers’ organisation in terms of collecting the membership fees so they can run effective organisations and we are calling on them to facilitate this.”