SUVA – Some labourers in Vanua Levu are demanding they be provided with televisions and radios in their camp if they’re hired to cut cane during the harvesting season. The situation has led to some farmers hesitating to hire these labourers because they demand too much.
National Farmers Union president Surendra Lal said he received complaints from his members over the demands of labourers.
Among other demands, he said the labourers wanted meat in their meals and more money for their work. The issue has prompted the government to urge these labourers to cut out such demands and be realistic.
Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said these labourers should be grateful because the farmers were providing them employment. “That kind of demand is childish and not in the master agreement between the labourers and the farmers,” he said.
“The labourers should not demand for a television or a radio except to be given food, accommodation and payment for cutting cane, that’s all.”
Lt Col Vaniqi said the cane-cutting season had been a success for villagers.
“The labourers who come from villages have earned money for their village projects. They go back to their villages after the harvesting season and build a church or a village hall. “Earning money from cutting cane to develop the village is important and they should not demand too much,” he said.
Lal said the farmers were already burdened with transport and other harvesting costs for the six-month duration of the crush.
“It’s quite difficult for farmers to meet the demands by some labourers because they have their own costs to take care of.
“So, we have advised our farmers to find good labourers and for them to understand each other in negotiating their deal for the harvesting season.”