Fiji Rugby staff take leave, pay cuts amid coronavirus pandemic

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Fiji has become the latest rugby country to make major cuts to its organisation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some staff members have been asked to take whatever annual leave they have left while those left working have taken 40 per cent pay cuts and had their working week reduced to three days a week.

Staff could also be asked to take pay without leave if the rugby shutdown continues deep into the year.

The news follows calls by countries including Australia, New Zealand and England, to stand down or cut the pay of employees as they look to keep their organisations afloat.

Fiji Rugby has also closed all its gyms and its headquarters, with all representative players training on individual programs away from the business.

Fiji Rugby CEO John O'Connor said the decisions would "protect" the sustainability of the organisation.

“With rugby in Fiji and globally coming to a halt, the Fiji Rugby Board has endorsed the implementation of a number of measures to protect the long term operating viability of the Union in response to the escalating impact of COVID 19 on the local and global economy” he said in a statement on Monday.

“All Unions globally are facing significant financial challenges and responsible financial decisions have to be made in order to preserve the operating ability and financial integrity of Fiji Rugby long term.

“Further cost cutting measures such as leave without pay will be implemented should the situation not improve in the near future and there is no rugby kicking off.

“We are in extraordinary times with this COVID-19 pandemic . We will continue to monitor the financial impact on our operations and will also continue discussions with World Rugby and our sponsors, however if the situation continues to escalate, further drastic reductions may be required.

“We hope we will not end up in such situation, but we must keep in mind that businesses are closing, and thousands of employees have lost their jobs and we must be prepared for the worse.

“We are facing challenging and difficult times and we are grateful to our staff for their understanding and support.:

O'Connor's statement comes after news that two Fijian ruby players who had returned from overseas were arrested over the weekend for breaching self-isolation regulations.

All international arrivals into Fiji must self-isolate for 14 days after landing as they try to curb the spread of the virus.

Currently, Fiji has not been seriously impacted by COVID-19, with only 12 cases and no deaths recorded but with five of those cases being recorded in the past two days, the Pacific Island is taking every precaution.