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Analysis: SODELPA Gets Mired Down In Overtime Row

Analysis: SODELPA Gets Mired Down In Overtime Row
SODELPA Party members at the SODELPA meeting at Namoli Village in Lautoka, on June 30, 2018. Photos: Peni Komaisavai
July 04
11:32 2018

As SODELPA raises its election profile it’s important for its credibility that it walks the talk.

The issue about the overtime payment for party staff will not go away.

When Opposition leader and party stalwart Ro Teimumu Kepa and SODELPA member of Parliament Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki speak out, officials should take them seriously. They expressed their concerns on the issue and its implications at the party’s annual general meeting at Namoli Village in Lautoka, last Saturday.

Both are senior members of the party, Ro Teimumu heading the Rewa and Burebasaga support and Ro Kiniviliame in the frontline of Naitasiri.

Both believe that party workers should be paid for overtime work instead of giving the staff time off.

When the workers take time off, party work either slows down or grinds to a halt.

MPs, who want research done are left helpless when the staff are not available.

SODELPA president, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, raises a legitimate point that the staff were hired on contracts. And that the contracts do not cover overtime.

Contracts can be amended when the two parties agree. It appears the staff are not happy working long hours and not getting paid. Instead, they are told to take their time off.

SODELPA has embraced the trade union battle for  a higher minimum wage rate of $4 an hour.

How can it justify this policy when it cannot pay even pay its staff overtime?

It is also ironical that party officials are defending the contractual agreement with the staff when they vehemently oppose contracts for civil servants introduced under the public service reforms. It smacks of hypocrisy.

If the party cannot afford to pay overtime because of insufficient funds then it must say so.

It should not hide behind the veneer of contracts. Again, contracts can be changed to include overtime.

If party MPs are not happy because it adversely affects their performance and the image of the party on employment issues, there is only one way to go.

Redraw the contracts and say yes to overtime. Otherwise, SODELPA will continue to get mired down in the row.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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