Garment Factory Invests In Child Care Facilities


The Government has once again put the needs of its people first by allocating funding for an exploratory committee to establish day-care centres near major hubs of employment around the country.
The initiative, which is in cooperation with United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women or UN Women, gives parents the flexibility to focus on their careers, while trusting that their children will be cared for in safe, nurturing and educational environment throughout the work day. 
This comes after the International Finance Corporation recently made an announcement that the lack of quality, affordable and reliable childcare services in Fiji is causing public and private employers to lose over 12 work days per employee every year.
Prior to the announcement, one company took charge to pave the way for other businesses by starting an in-house day care centre for it employee’s children.
Mark One Apparel director Mark Halabe said it took the company two years from the concept, consultation and approval stage for employees to carry out the demolition of the toilet block to see completion of the day care facility.
“We designed the child care centre for 30 children and it has officially been open for two months. Currently we are taking in children who are three years and above and slowly build the number up from 11 we have now,” Mr Halabe said.
He said some of the nearby local companies like Lyndhurst, ANZ Bank and Mind Pearl have been welcomed to send their children to use the facility as it is currently not being utilised to its full capacity by Mark One Apparel employees.
“We charge $5 per day from the staff and $10 per child for those that are not working here - which is subsidized - but it is costing us $15 per day to actually run the centre,” Mr Halabe said.
“In my unique case, I needed skilled labour and after training the staff for many years, the women don’t come back to work after their maternity leave because they can’t find safe and secure child care,” he added.
“The idea was to entice the mothers back to work by giving them the opportunity for a reliable, safe, good quality and affordable childcare. We are now able to attract skilled sewing machinists who have been staying at home because of the lack of child care facility.”
A lecturer from Australia comes in to oversee the centre regularly and a local staff trained from Australian Pacific Technical College (APTC) runs the centre with two apprentices.
The cost of the facility is approximately $400,000 with the Market Development Facility providing a $50,000 grant for the architects plan and APTC assisting with the overall design and set-up of the centre. The facility has a play area, sleeping area, kitchen, medical room, toilet facilities and a storage room.