Final farewells have been held in the last two days for civil servants who’ve been forced to retire.
As of 4.30pm today, anyone over 55 were to bid their colleagues farewell for the last time.
The only exception to the new protocol are the 9 post holders specified in the State Services Decree - they include Army Commander Voreqe Bainimarama, who is allowed to work for 10 more years before retirning at 65, in 2019.
The Commodore turned 55 on Monday but is exempt from the new decree and gets to continue receiving his salary. As reported earlier, the interim prime minister is expected to earn more than $739,000 in salary and Fiji National Provident Fund contributions, based on his current annual salary of $96,000.
Coupfourpointifve sources say workers who’ve been made to retire this week, regard the forced retirement as discrimination. While some 2301 civil servants will wake up tomorrow trying to scratch the bottom of the barrel to meet mortgage commitments, loan repayments, and to educate their children, Bainimarama will have no such worries.
Note - the number of workers forced to retire was originally said to be 1,614 before Coupfourpointfive revealed it was much higher - 2301. The figure was later confirmed by the Public Service Commission's permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand.
One of the two teacher unions, the Fijian Teachers Association has already warned of the deterioration in the quality and standard of education.
Ironically, the theme of the World Children's Day in Fiji this year was Uniting Fiji Through Children. How does the interim government expect children to perform this role when they are deprived of quality education by the very powers-that-be, who want to see them live in a better country?
The Ministry of Education has been the hardest hit by the 55 year retirement age rule.
Last week, interim Education Minister, Filipe Bole, was basking in glory when he told Radio Fiji news that 1028 teachers and education officers would retire. He said it was achieved by his Ministry following a directive by the Public Service Commission to reduce the size of the overall size of civil service by 10%. He said a 10% reduction in Education Ministry came to 1005 in terms of numbers but 1028 would leave the Ministry.
The Education Ministry has lost some very important personnel. All deputy permanent secretaries, all divisional heads and education officers have retired. So have many heads of department in many schools as well as principals and head teachers.
One small school on a remote island that had four teachers is now left with one. Another very small village based school on another remote island had two teachers. It now has one.
It is not known how many teachers or civil servants who have been forced to retire, will be re-employed on contracts.
Editor's Note: Public Service Commission Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi has told media that of the 2301 retiring, 192 will be retained on a one-year contract.
Mr Serulagilagi also says they've yet to determine who will be retained for the Finance, National Planning, Tourism, Public Enterprise, Information and Works and Transport ministries.
He says the retirement process will allow Fiji to move towards a leaner civil service and that government services will not be compromised.