Fiji’s longest workers dispute – at the Vatukoula Gold Mine, which has lasted 33 years, is expected to be finally settled, with a promised pay-out of FJD$9.2 million (US$4.6 million) by the country’s coalition government.

The settlement was announced in Suva today by the Minister of Finance, Biman Prasad in his 2024-2025 budget allocation.

“The 365 mining workers went on strike on 25 February 1991 and since then there has not been any settlement to the workers’ grievances. They’ve waited for over three decades for justice, said Prasad.

Former governments have tried to resolve the issue, including an attempt in 2015 which did not eventuate.

The Coalition Government has proposed a FJD$9.2 million (US$4.6 million) pay-out in the 2024-2025 budget.

“The 365 workers will each receive a FJD$25,000 (US$12,500) pay-out. The first FJD$10,000 (US$5,000) will come from the 2024-2025 budget and the balance of FJD$15,000 (US$7,500) from the 2025-2026 budget, announced Prasad.

Government acknowledged the close collaboration between the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and the Fiji Mine Workers Union (FMWU) in reaching this three-decade settlement for the workers.

“The strike devastated the lives and livelihoods of Vatukoula mine workers. Many families were shattered by the long-running strike action, said Prasad.

The Ministry of Labour in consultation with the Mine Workers Union will be responsible for disbursing the payments.

The Coalition Government has also announced effective from 01 August this year, the national minimum wage will be increased to FJD$4.50 (US$2.25) an hour with a further increase to FJD$5.00 (US$2.50) an hour effective from 01 April 2025.

All salary-based civil servants will receive a pay rise of around seven percent to 10 percent while wage earners will get an increment ranging from 10 percent up to 20 percent.