A first of its kind educational child care services facility was opened today at Mark One Apparel Pte Limited, a leading garment manufacturer in Suva. The service, which will cater for 30 pre-school children, has been designed specifically to assist working mothers employed by Mark One Apparel, as a business solution to support women in the workplace.
The facility was officially opened by Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, who commended the efforts of Mark One Apparel.
“I am pleased the facility has a strong focus on helping women to realise their work potential and to increase their participation in the formal labour market. Research has shown that access to high quality and reliable childcare can increase productivity for working parents and their employers,” said Mr Feakes.
The gentleman behind the innovation and multi award-winning exporter of the year, Mark Halabe, said, “The workplace has been designed by men for men. Thisproject is innovative, as a ground-breaking attempt to include mothers who want to work and have a safe child care facility at the workplace.”
The Australian Government-funded Market Development Facility partnered with Mark One to turn the innovation into a reality.
MDF Fiji Country Director, Mujaddid Mohsin, said Mark One Apparel is a pioneer for other private sector businesses. “MDF is proud to have supported Mark One Apparel to realise their dream to create an encompassing working environment for their female staff which will also boost their productivity and efficiency,” Mr Mohsin added.
The introduction of the day care services at Mark One prompted the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) to capitalise on the investment and establish a Centre of Excellence within the day care facility to train child care service professionals.
APTC Country Director, Jovesa Saladoka, praised the effort by Mark One Apparel and MDF in ensuring continuity for women workers whilst promoting women’s empowerment.
“This establishment ring-fences a one-stop service concept where APTC ensures that the delivery of child care is benchmarked against the best standards that guarantee child safety and protection,” said Mr Saladoka.
Mark One Apparel has been in operation in Fiji for the past 30 years. The company manufactures corporate and sports garments for the Australian and European markets.
Mark One employs around 400 workers, out of which 300 are women. The women are predominantly from the informal settlements in urban and peri-urban areas in Suva, Nasinu and Nausori.
Mark One has struggled with high turnover of 30-40% of skilled workers and high absenteeism rates of experienced workers. It is not uncommon for up to 20 workers to miss work each day due to childcare responsibilities. This has affected the company’s efficiency and productivity and has led to increased costs in recruitment and training.
To boost the working environment, and to address the issue of high absenteeism and staff turn-over, Mark One sought to invest in an ‘employer sponsored’ Day Care service within the factory as the company firmly believes that a day care facility can generate positive economic impacts by helping the company to remain profitable, by reducing turnover, absenteeism, and increasing productivity among workers.
MDF partnered with Mark One to conduct a survey to gauge the interest of the staff for child care services at the workplace and assisted the company with developing the architectural design for the centre.