- May 28, 2021
The Fiji Trades Union Congress supports the statement from the Fiji CSO Alliance for Covid 19 Humanitarian Response calling on the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum to resign immediately. It has become evident that this Minister has totally failed in his responsibility to manage the current crisis, and to ensure the well- being of all citizens. People are in dire need for immediate assistance to survive and we see this Minister being totally absent from the scene, failing to tell the people what his plans are to deal with the pandemic and to assist people. A $90 one-off assistance to some and a grand announcement for workers to use their FNPF is not sufficient by any standards.
The FTUC had in its last media release demanded that the Government develop a plan to deal with this pandemic including assistance to workers and their families and to make it known to the people. Clearly there was no plan and this Government has been caught with its “pants down”. Grandstanding in Parliament after 5 weeks of lockdown and demonstrating such arrogance and careless attitude is not what people of Fiji need right now. His priorities in Parliament were clearly misplaced. If his lack of knowledge of the state of our roads is anything to go by, then we cannot expect him to know the dire situation our people are facing. He is simply out of touch with the reality on the ground. Repeated calls from CSOs, political parties and individuals have fallen on deaf ears. He simply knows it all and brushes them off as politics. His continued refusal to collaborate, consult and dialogue with stakeholders to address the rising food poverty and job issue of our people shows his absolute lack of knowledge on crisis management ,and even humanity.
We acknowledge the work and contribution of many good citizens to assist our people. It is sad that even the charitable work that is being done by individuals and CSOs are not being appreciated by this Government. In fact Government in many instances is attempting to take credit for the work done by these organizations and individuals.
Workers and their families are out of work for now more than 5 weeks without pay in most cases. These are workers who earn at the very bottom of the wage scale and mostly at the meager level of our national minimum wage which is well below the poverty line and much closer to extreme poverty. Families cannot afford decent food and have difficulty putting one meal a day on the table. Many have even lost their jobs. Some have even resorted to borrowing or stealing. Yet this Minister simply thinks it is all politics. His other Ministers are just as useless and are only good for sitting in Parliament and cheering the “minister for everything” on. It is apparent that the more these Ministers cheer him on, the more secure their jobs are.
It is time this Government gets its act together or ship out. We remind Aiyaz Khaiyum that it is all about the people and that he has failed miserably. The honorable thing for this Minister to do is resign immediately. The people deserve better.