It was FTUC that persevered to ensure that the Bill which got stuck in the Senate on the day the Coup took place was implemented in 2007 as the ERP that all workers in Fiji today derive their rights from. The Tripartite partners (Government, FCEF and FTUC) agreed that a review of the ERP should be conducted after 5 years of it being in effect to address any shortcomings. This comprehensive review was conducted 2012 -2013 by the Tripartite partners. The implementation of this review is part of the Geneva Agreement.
It is unfortunate that many people who in the comfort of their homes and offices have no idea the work that FTUC has put in to improve the lives of working people. Yes there is still much to be achieved, more so after the draconian decrees since 2009. That work and struggle continues which is why FTUC has pursued the matter with ILO, ITUC, EU and many governments around the world.
Some believe that FTUC ought to only seek a Commission of Inquiry (COI) at the ILO and should not enter into any dialogue with Government. They believe that any dialogue is a sign of weakness. I disagree. Dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect is the only way to effectively resolve the impasse. Even if a COI is decided by ILO, the Tripartite partners will at some point have to enter into dialogue to resolve matters in dispute. The COI is not an end in self but a means to an end. It is to achieve a speedy resolution. The FTUC is focused on achieving the desired results and not to punish the Government or the Country.
We have had fruitful discussions with the new Minister for Labour last Saturday. Certain matters in dispute have been agreed to and we await their implementation. Further discussions are planned on outstanding issues. I have been warned by many that Government will not honor any agreement as it did not honor the Geneva Agreement. There is some merit in this advice. However, I am willing to enter into discussions with the new Minister and give him the opportunity to address the issues in dispute between Government and FTUC. We have agreed that the Geneva Agreement must be implemented. A COI will seek to do the same if appointed. Many talk of trade sanctions without having any understanding of how these happen. Many are ignorant enough to think a COI will solve all the problems and sanctions would be automatic. This is far from reality.
The FTUC will not be moved by professional critics and fly by night experts on these matters. Many of whom have never lifted a finger for workers in Fiji in the most difficult of times let alone do something that would have benefited workers in Fiji. These very people were nowhere to be seen or heard when Many including I were beaten up for what we stand for or when Daniel Urai and I were jailed for about 2 weeks for Trade Union activity in 2011. Yet they today stand on rooftops and make all the noise about what Trade Unions and in particular FTUC should do. They have become champions of workers’ overnight
In today’s Fiji where humour is essential to keep us all sane, we thank this lot for the entertainment and the fact that their blind hypocrisy is amusing.
The FTUC will persevere to achieve worker’s rights and dignity at work.
The only person holding the country to ransom over the dispute with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the Prime Minister and this is because he is unable to control his Attorney General and Minister for Finance, says Opposition Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Ratu Sela Nanovo
Opposition Shadow Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Ratu Sela Nanovo said today that the only person holding the country to ransom over the dispute with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is Prime Minister Bainimarama himself, and this is because of his inability to control his Attorney General and Minister for Finance, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. The Prime Minister in theory is head of government but in reality is subservient to Mr Khaiyum. The whole country knows this.
Ratu Sela said that our recent history has shown that division and dispute often follows when Hon Khaiyum is involved in trying to solve national issues. This is because Hon Khaiyum has an uncontrollable urge to impose his will rather than to seek solutions that reflect the needs of the people and the country. Ratu Sela was responding to the Prime Minister’s attack on unions and workers representatives claiming they were holding the country to ransom over the standoff with the ILO.
The Prime Minister is way out of line here and has simply echoed the ill-conceived strategies and comments of Mr Khaiyum over the ILO dispute. He owes the Unions an apology.
Ratu Sela said the draft decision by the ILO and Government, Employers and Union Representatives
Is brief and very clear and reads:-
Regretting the continuing failure to submit a joint implementation report to the Governing Body in accordance with the Tripartite Agreement signed by the Government of the Republic of Fiji, the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and the Fiji Commerce and Employers’ Federation (FCEF) on 25 March 2015, and as requested by the Governing Body at its 324th Session (June 2015), the Governing Body decides: GB.325/INS/9(Rev.) GB325-INS_9(Rev.)_[NORME-151103-41]-En.docx 3:-
(a) to call on the Government of Fiji to accept a tripartite mission to review the ongoing obstacles to the submission of a joint implementation report and consider all matters pending in the article 26 complaint;
(b) That, if the tripartite mission did not take place in time for a report to the 326th Session of the Governing Body (March 2016), then the 326th Session should take a decision on the appointment of a commission of inquiry under article 26; and
(c) To place this question on the agenda of its 326th Session.
Ratu Sela said the Prime Minister and his government should stop playing their foolish games, face the facts and start telling the truth. On the ILO agreement, the people should understand that the only reason an ILO Commission of Inquiry will be convened is if the Fiji First government continues to drag its feet and fails to comply with its own undertaking that it signed in the Tripartite Agreement of March 2015.
That’s it! So the government should just get on with it and protect the country from the negative impact of a Commission of Inquiry.
Ratu Sela Nanovo