REASSESSMENT OF FIJI HARDWOOD CORPORATION CONTINUES WORKERS GET THREE WEEKS OF PAID LEAVE AT COMPANY?S EXPENSE

The restructuring and reorganisation of Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited (FHCL) is entering a new phase as the results of an external assessment by experts of the hardwood sector are studied and recommendations are developed for moving forward.

While plans are being finalised, operations at the Waivunu Sawmill and the Navutu Manufacturing site are suspended, with workers receiving a full three weeks paid leave in the interval. This leave will not be deducted from workers’ accumulated leave, and is in addition to any existing leave.

The Waivunu and Navutu operations have been running at a substantial loss for years, costing massive amounts of taxpayers’ money. ?This financial situation and the dilapidated condition of the facilities’ equipment that resulted from minimal reinvestment in maintenance or modernization since these operations were acquired by FHCL eight years ago, have led to the current reassessment.

In addition, FHCL has accumulated more than $18 million of Government-guaranteed loans and also received more than $25 million in outright Government grants from 1998 until 2006. Recently, the Navutu and Waivunu locations have been the targets of thefts, with more than $24,000 of cash and equipment being stolen in the past year, in addition to a significant amount of timber. Police are investigating and interviewing workers about these crimes.

MINFO