MINERAL POLICY - Section 7 : Labour & Employment
Section 7 - Labour and Employment Policy
||Even though the number of jobs created by mining is likely to be modest,
labour and employment policies in the mining sector are very important to the Fiji
Government. On the positive side, Government sees the mining sector as attracting
relatively well paid, high-skill positions which can be directly transferable to other
sectors of the economy. On the negative side, if mines use their ability to pay high wages
to attract skilled workers away from other sectors, inflationary wage pressures can
quickly emerge. In Government's view the key to maximizing benefits and minimizing wage
pressures is for mining companies to pursue an aggressive program of skill training
designed to maximise the participation of local citizens. These complementary programs of
skill training and job localisation form the core of Government's labour policy for the
||While Fiji has a free collective bargaining system, mining companies are
expected to adhere closely to national wage policy and to practice wage restraint. An
effective dispute settlement procedure is established in Fiji and is incorporated into
comprehensive labour legislation.
||Mining companies are expected to develop and maintain substantial internal
training programs. In general, mine management needs to look to these programs rather than
to the general economy to meet their needs for skilled labour. Government is prepared to
open its training facilities for collaborative
programs with individual companies or with the mining industry in general.
||There are no strict localization targets or rigid localization schedules
in Fiji. However, experience has shown that Fiji workers are highly trainable, flexible
and motivated. With this in mind, Government anticipates that most of the skilled
positions in a new mine would be localized within the first few years of operation. For
management and professional positions, localization may take substantially longer. While
Government has no desire to set arbitrary timetables, mine managers should be prepared to
submit studies on localization efforts and problems. The Immigration Department which
controls the localisation process, has adopted a facilitatory approach towards mineral
sector investors, recognising the specialised labour requirements of that industry
relative to other sectors.
||As in most developing nations, national wage levels are of concern. The
ability of mining companies to pay wages which are higher than wages offered by other
industries presents a special challenge to the Government's wage policy. Neither the
mining industry nor the economy-at-large benefits from excessive wage pressure, and mining
projects are expected to be sensitive to the special role that their wage levels may play
in the national wage structure. Close cooperation between company personnel Government
labour officials and the Mining and Quarrying Wages
Council is encouraged.
||In so far as wage differentials between expatriate employees and local
recruits are necessary, employers are urged to make use of such devices as end-of-contract
gratuities rather than to increase monthly pay levels, which can needlessly accentuate
standard of living differences.
||Government believes that recruitment procedures and practices in the
mining sector need to be carefully tailored to the situation of individual projects. As
mentioned earlier, Government leaves the mining company to recruit without Government
interference. However, it should be recognised that residents in many rural areas are not
likely to have all the skills required by a new project and, indeed, some rural areas may
be hard pressed to meet even the mine's unskilled labour needs, without a substantial
disruption to rural life. In situations where recruitment of people from outside the
immediate area is necessary, mining companies should send recruitment teams to other
prospective regions rather than advertising and recruiting outsiders at the mine site
itself. In this suggestion, Government is seeking to avoid a situation where unemployed
migrants are attracted to the mining area on the mere prospect of work. Government
believes that once it becomes clear that only residents can be recruited at the mine site,
the migrant/squatter problem will become more manageable.
Footnotes  
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 Fiji's labour laws are found in the following Acts:
Employment Act (Cap. 92), Workmen's Compensation Act (Cap. 94) Trade Unions Act (Cap. 96),
the Trade Unions (Recognition) Act (Cap. 96A), the Trade Disputes Act (Cap. 97), and the
Wages Councils Act (Cap. 98). All are administered by the Department of Labour.
 The Fiji National Training Council (FNTC) is the official
Government body which exists to provide training to employees of both the private and
public sector. It delivers training courses on the basis of market demand, and funds these
by the 'FNTC Levy', which is a 1% tax on employers' gross payrolls. Where companies choose
to train workers in-house, 90% of the levy paid is refunded in accordance with the Fiji
National Training Act (Cap. 93).
 The Mining and Quarrying Wages Council is an official
body, established under the Wages Council Act to determine the minimum wages and
conditions appropriate for the mining industry. Industry representatives hold permanent
seats on this council.