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War Of Words Escalates As Union Row On Poll Grows

War Of Words Escalates As Union Row On Poll Grows
From left: Rajeshwar Singh. and Damodaran Nair.
March 13
14:13 2017

What Damodaran Nair said:

The eligibility criteria of the Fiji Public Service Association Constitution for candidates contesting FPSA elections should have been amended when the  Employment Relations Promulgation came into effect. It’s failure to do so now renders the FPSA Constitution as ultra vires. Section 127(2) of the ERP sates: ‘The offices of secretary and treasurer of a registered trade union may be filled by a person who has not been engaged or employed in an industry, trade or occupation with which the union is directly concerned.’

When and why was the amendment made to include the strict five years qualification criteria to contest the general secretary (GS) position? This is contrary to section 78 of the ERP as it is discriminatory to eliminate other 2000 plus financial members. The controversial criteria for the GS post are principal officer for a minimum of five years. So technically no one would qualify except for the six persons named under clause 46(a) (1 – 3) of the FPSA Constitution.

National President, 3 National vice presidents, GS – Treasurer. The current GS is eligible for re-election.

Why has this strict criteria included for the GS post whereas for the Treasurer post it is extended to the National Councillors and not restricted to Principal Officers only. At least there is some leeway for others to contest. Whereas for the GS post, it is restricted to only the six from the 2000 plus members

The law, ERP section 127(1)(a) (a) says ‘an officer of a registered trade union must have been engaged or occupied for a period of not less than 6 months in an industry, trade or occupation with which the union is directly concerned.’ Under the strict compliance of the law, the office of the treasurer and the secretary are not officers of the union. Therefore, by including these two positions as principal officers of the union is ultra vires.

On the issue of the voting by the delegates, this again is contrary to the principle of 1 person 1 vote, that is one financial member 1 vote and not the selected Delegates to vote for the entire 2000 plus members.Section 52 of the 2013 Constitution (1) says each voter is entitled to cast one vote only in an election.

If I do not qualify then Rajeshwar Singh also does not qualify and he cannot rely upon the strict qualifying criteria for the GS post to get back. We now have the ERP and the 2013 Constitution which is the supreme law and supersedes the FPSA Constitution.

On the $80m investment which Mr Singh referred to, what are the members getting?

No dividends only meagre mutual benefits. No benefits for the members, who have been terminated, resigned or made redundant.

Mr Singh should get some serious legal advice on his stance/interpretation of the law which he has grossly misinterpreted.

If, in the interpretation of Rajeshwar Singh I am not eligible, then he is also not eligible. Then the nomination should be open to all existing financial members, this is what we call a fair, and transparent election.

2013 Constitution –  23(2) EVERY CITIZEN HAS THE RIGHT to free, fair and regular elections for any elective institution or   office     established    under this Constitution then under 23(3)(c) every citizen has the right to be a candidate for public office. The post of GS is a Public Office  – section 57(3) (f) of the 2013 Constitution says every citizen has the right to be a candidate for the post.

If the GS has been doing his representation of the members in resolving their grievances, then they would not have come to me seeking assistance. They convinced me to contest  the post for the sake of change

 

What Rajeshwar Singh said:

Damodaran Nair is a student studying law and as we see he  hasn’t got a bright future .  When we recruited him in 2008  for six months on an allowance we thought he was learning something but we now realise he hasn’t learned much . For the record we gave him the temporary job because his daughter was doing Nursing an his other children were in primary school.

His interpretation of ERP which he glibly quotes  is totally wrong as we have a top legal advice  on issues which he is citing.

He received so many such advice from this law firm when he was employed  by us.

He was sacked.

The matter is yet to be settled and his main motivation now is to take revenge. While at FPSA we have letter from Ministry of Labour questioning his dealings at the Employment Relations Tribunal representing employers and various others.

“We will oppose his registration as we have evidence against him. We are awaiting  him at the “Hustings”. Need we say more.

Edited by Paula Tuvuki

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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