Seychelles' political and business leaders seek employment solutions in face of COVID-19
Bastienne said it comes down to achieving a balance between the rights and interests of employees and those of employers. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - High-level discussions chaired by Seychelles' President Danny Faure continue to seek better options for employees, employers and businesses faced with difficulties and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week's meeting, held on Tuesday at State House, brought together different partners to strategize on the way forward as from the end of June, when the Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR) scheme – announced by Faure on March 20, which guarantees salary payments for employees and self-employed individuals, ends.
"We are following the principles of how we can ensure that we are supporting the employees and the employers and that is through what the government as regards to the (FA4JR) scheme. We obviously need to review the modalities because there is a lot of frustration, desperation and confusion with regards to the process," explained Olivier Bastienne, chairperson of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).
Bastienne added that "in addition to that we would want the principle to look at a business as a legal entity and how the different schemes especially the Central Bank scheme can assist in terms of businesses as a legal entity."
'We made various discussions with regards to the modality of the scheme and one of the most pertinent ones is around the micro and the small business to ensure that they get captured going forward because a lot of time has limitations with regards to financial and nonfinancial," said Bastienne.
The issue of Gainful Occupancy Permit (GOP) was also discussed, something Bastienne must be looked at seriously as Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - has a labour issue in terms of quantity and skills.
"For the first time in many years, our employment situation is reversed. We have always had more job opportunities than persons seeking jobs but now things are reversed. Now we have more persons seeking jobs than there are jobs on the market," Veronique Bresson – the Special Advisor for Employment -- told journalists after the first consultative meeting last week.
Bresson said: "Things look positive and the government is serious about the current situation in the country. President Danny Faure has made that clear. It comes down to achieving a balance between the rights and interests of employees and those of employers."
Antoine Robinson from the Seychelles Federation Workers Union said that the consultations have been very fruitful as all are concerned about losing their jobs.
"For people who will be made redundant in the private sector, the government has put in place a scheme. I was one who asked that their salaries were guaranteed, And President has accepted that their salaries are guaranteed up to December. But these employees must understand that they must join the scheme to work because they will get a salary," explained Robinson.
Robinson said workers must understand that the scheme is temporary and they will need to be ready to once the economy and tourism picks up to rejoin formal employment where they will get more benefits.
The weekly meetings are attended by the Attorney General, representatives from ministries for Employment and Finance, the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI), Seychelles Federation Workers Union and representatives from the tourism sector.