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Opinion

Analysis: Why Unions Hate Individual Contracts

Analysis: Why Unions Hate Individual Contracts
August 16
11:24 2018

Under the current civil service reforms Government employees can choose to withdraw from their trade unions and stop paying their subscription fees.

The introduction of individual contracts between them and the Government renders the role of trade unions irrelevant.

This is the main reason why trade unions are vehemently fighting against the civil service reforms.

They are fighting for their survival and own interests by using the employees as industrial human shields.

Let’s look at the positives in these reforms:

  • The salary scale is higher under the reforms.
  • Employees have a clear career pathway under the merit-based system
  • Appointments and promotions are based on performance
  • The reforms encourage hard work and enterprise which in turn improves efficiency and productivity.

So all this fuss about the reforms is just based on one issue – contract.

If unions can stop the implementation of the contracts, it will be for their long term benefit.

The unions’ target is the individual contract, signed between individual employees and the employer, which in this case is the Government.

It replaces the collective agreement signed by the trade unions and the Government.

The unions represent the workers. The contract removes the unions from the equation.

In basic terms, a contract is an agreement between two or more parties.

In this case it’s only between two parties, the Government and the employee. It excludes the unions.

It means the unions have no right or legitimacy to be speaking on behalf of the workers unless the workers have agreed to let the unions speak for them.

The unions affected here include the Fiji Public Service Association, the Fiji Teachers Union,  Fijian Teachers Association , Viti Civil Servants Association and Fiji Nurses’ Association.

Even if they lose members to individual contracts most of them have business operations like properties to sustain them for a long time.

But they do not want to lose members. That’s the reason they have escalated the matter to become a political issue.

Workers must wake up and decide what’s best for them in terms of pay and career paths in a performance-based environment.

The old system which had perpetuated a culture of mediocrity had propped up the collective bargaining practice.

It is out of kilter with modern day practices and professionalism.

The reforms are designed to improve the service delivery to the people through efficiency, accountability and transparency – all the features of good governance.

But misinformation by some unions claims that the reforms threaten the workers’ interests.

The fear mongering is uncalled for. Again this is being done to try to force the hands of the Government to change course.

It is also aimed at influencing workers to reject the contract.

Already, the positive impact of the reforms on service is being felt. Because of this there is no going back with or without the unions. Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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