Commission of Inquiry into Fiji Averted
The ILO Governing Body today (25th March) agreed to defer the decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry until the November Session in light of the Tripartite Agreement signed by the FTUC, FCEF and Government.
The FTUC, FCEF and Government today signed an agreement to ensure that workers’ rights in Fiji would conform to the ILO Core Labour Standards. The Parties met after agreeing on preliminary matters to negotiate an agreement.
The Agreement lays down the groundwork for the amendment of all labour laws that violate Core Labour Standards including the Decrees. The Parties agreed that the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP) would form the primary basis for labour management relations in Fiji. The FTUC maintains that all workers must be covered by the ERP as it is the principle Employment relations law.
The work of the Employment Relations Advisory Board that reviewed all labour laws noting the recommendations of the Committee of Experts of ILO Report and ILO Conventions be the will be taken into consideration when the ERAB negotiates any further issues raised by any social partners. Any recommendations shall comply with ILO Standards. Government has undertaken to draft legislation based on the recommendations of ERAB and will present the draft Bill to ERAB for vetting prior to being presented to Cabinet and Parliament.
The Parties have agreed to a maximum time limit for such an exercise. Government must present the Bill to Parliament at the latest by end of August 2015 and after passed by Parliament must implement the new laws at the latest by end of October 2015. These timelines must be observed.
Government has also agreed to reinstate Union check-off with immediate effect. This is Union subscription deductions that Government had ceased some years ago. This is a positive move.
The parties also agreed to submit a joint implementation report to the ILO Governing Body in June. This report will indicate the progress of the work that the Parties have undertaken by entering into this agreement. The Governing Body will be able to monitor progress or lack of it and may offer guidance.
The decision to establish a Commission of Inquiry has been deferred to the November session of the Governing Body. This decision will largely depend on the Government meeting its’ commitments as stated in the Agreement. This agreement is witnessed by the Director General of ILO.
The FTUC welcomes the agreement reached. We are under no illusion that this will require a great deal of good faith by all parties. The FTUC remains committed to the restoration of workers’ rights in Fiji. The agreement to reinstate check-off is also positive and will encourage good faith. We look forward to the full implementation of this agreement. This we hope will mark a new beginning for Industrial Relations in Fiji.