Motion calling for independent audit of sugar mills

Motion defeated
By Felix Chaudhary
The Fiji Times, Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A MOTION calling for an independent audit of accidents which resulted in deaths at Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) mills was defeated when it was put to the vote in Parliament yesterday.

National Federation Party parliamentarian Prem Singh had called for an independent audit of the mills before the start of the 2016 crushing season with the focus to be on mill operations and occupational health and safety measures.

“The FSC executive chairman commented in the media that health and safety regulations were not being adhered to by mill workers,” Mr Singh said.

“This is preposterous. 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.

“The FSC has been sidestepping the fundamental issue of whether there are properly constituted occupational health and safety committees at each of the four mills.

“And if so, whether the committees are functional and independent or riddled with interference from the management.”

Mr Singh was referring to the deaths of Setareki Sigatokacake and Keni Senimoli.

Mr Sigatokacake died in July, 2013 from injuries sustained when a vessel containing extremely hot liquid collapsed at the Lautoka mill.

Mr Senimoli died last July allegedly from injuries sustained from a
conveyor belt at the Rarawai mill in Ba.

Both men were sole breadwinners and left behind dependent wives and school-aged children.

Two other workers suffered extensive burns after two more accidents at the Rarawai mill.

Industrial Relations Minister Semi Koroilavesau responded to Mr Singh’s motion by saying the issue had been blown out of proportion.

“We do not need to exaggerate and be emotional about an issue for public show,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“Let me state at the outset that accidents and death is a fact of our daily life. The probability of accidental death depends on the activities that one participates in.

“We as Government do not think an independent audit is necessary.”

Mr Koroilavesau said Government had collaborated with FSC to design, develop and commission a comprehensive OHS management system with the primary aim of providing a safe and healthy workplace in all sugar mills in Fiji.