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New FTUC Row

New FTUC Row
March 01
11:08 2015

The Fiji Trades Union Congress is boycotting the Tripartite Forum set up with Government and employers.

The forum is called the Employment Relations Advisory Board (ERAB).

The boycott is revealed as another row breaks out within the FTUC.

The FTUC has accused Government that “despite exhaustive consultations and negotiations have failed to act upon the decisions of the ERAB Board.”

This is “in relation to the decrees that have been imposed denying workers in the public and private sector their fundamental rights.”

The resolution was made at the recent FTUC bi-ennial conference in Nadi. But full details have just been revealed in conjuction with another related issue. The issue is the continuing defiance of the Fiji Public Service Association industrial officer Darmodaran Nair to remain on the ERAB.

In a letter to the FPSA dated February 25, Mr Anthony wrote: “The Biennial Delegates Conference unanimously adopted a Resolution on the Employment Relations Advisory Board and the participation of your staff purporting to be a workers’ representative.

“Attached herewith is a copy of the Resolution, for your information and necessary action. I note that you and your delegates were in the Conference when the resolution was adopted without any dissention. You are requested to make a report to the next National Council meeting of the FTUC on the above matter.”

The FPSA is one of the largest affiliates of the FTUC.

FPSA’s general secretary Rajeshwar Singh is in India on holiday and could not be reached to comment. Mr Nair said last night: “My appointment to the Employment Relations Board (ERAB) was made by the former Minister of Labour as he can under the Employment Relations Promulgation appoint any person who, in his opinion, is a representative of the workers.

“I am the senior industrial officer of FPSA and it is on record that I have been representing workers from not only the unionised sector but also from those that are unorganised, that is where there is no Union representative.

“In the past I was also a member of the National Occupation Health and Safety Board as a nominee of FTUC but when I refused to be their mouth piece, they declined to renew my nomination to that Board.

“My appointment to ERAB is a statutory appointment as such only the Minister may rescind this appointment, which is for a period of two years from 2014. It was very apparent even before the FTUC resolution of 7/2/2015, that the FTUC nominees were boycotting the meetings and it was my presence that formed the quorum.

“I cannot understand on one hand the FTUC is saying they represent the workers of the country but in the contrary they are deliberately boycotting this important meeting where pertinent issues concerning the workers of this country are discussed. It is better to be inclusive and be heard rather then not be heard at all. When they are not heard they go to ILO, ITUC and other outside agents saying that they are not heard.

“In regards to the resolution relating to an employee of FPSA’s appointment to the Board, they are referring to me as I am the only one who is not the nominee of FTUC.”

Mr Anthony said yesterday Mr Nair “is a non-entity as far as FTUC is concerned and I dont want to talk about him.”

“No one should represent FTUC in ERAB. If there are going to be any representations from FTUC in ERAB those nomination would come from FTUC and especially from me,” he said.

Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Minister Jioji Konrote has advised all trade unions to work together to take the country forward.

He was not aware of the boycott but will look into it. He said he could not comment on the FTUC but wanted them to talk things out.

“All I would like is for us to work together that’s all I can say to take the country forward but what happens within the trade union movements on how they interact with one another that’s theirs, Government is not going to step in and intervene.

“However, we would like to work with them to represent the interest of the workers because as the Minister of Labour I represent the interest of the workers. We are after the same outcome but going about it in different ways,” he said.

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