FBL implements another cost-cutting measure with prolonged border closures

The prolonged closure of the international borders as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to add financial pressure on Free Bird Institute Ltd.

And the executive management of the publicly-listed institution is now moving to implement phase three of its cost cutting measures effective from August 10, 2020.

FBL executive director Waisale Iowane said in the institution’s market announcement issued via the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPX) that such measures would see the further reduction of salary for executives, management and selected staff of 40 to 60 per cent in the form of a reduction in working hours.

He said the operating hours for the company would reduce from the present four days to two days in a week.

This means the new business hours for the language and administration office would be Monday and Tuesday – from 9am to 5pm – until further notice, and offices in the local high schools will continue to open from Monday to Fridays – 8am-5pm.

“Extensive consultations have been made with our staff at all levels to explain the position that the company is in and the reason for this difficult decision,” Mr Iowane said via the market announcement.

In the announcement, FBL executive chairman Hiroshi Taniguchi said: “We need to put in place measures that will ensure our business will be able to survive in the next 12-24 months, so this decision that we have made today could potentially ensure that.”

“With the uncertainty around when the Fiji borders would open to markets in Asia, we are unable to provide accurate information to our potential clients who are from these markets and, therefore, unable to ascertain when we would open our doors to international students again,” Mr Taniguchi said.

FBL chief operating officer Mereseini Baleilevuka said they now had about 20 students in their language schools because other students had returned to Japan through flights operated by Air New Zealand last month.

“… Accordingly, we have had to relook and reduce our manpower in our language schools to reflect the decrease in student numbers,” Ms Baleilevuka said.

“We continue to have over 100 students enrolled in the three local high schools that we partner with. Therefore, our teaching staff in our high school department is not as affected as those in our language departments, except for the management teams.

“We have also looked at ways in which we are able to deliver our teaching services via alternative means such as online classes to former or new students in Japan in the bid to keep our teachers employed during this downtime.”