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By RACHNA LAL A Government delegation left for Washington DC, USA over the weekend to participate in the US Government’s public hearing concerning whether Fiji provides internationally-recognised worker rights to
02 Oct 2012 08:34

By RACHNA LAL

A Government delegation left for Washington DC, USA over the weekend to participate in the US Government’s public hearing concerning whether Fiji provides internationally-recognised worker rights to its citizens.
This was confirmed by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday.
The need for Fiji to defend its case arose after a move by the Fiji Trades Union Congress seeking the US to punish Fiji for its labour reforms which could stop us benefitting from the US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme.
It could put 15,000 Fijian jobs at risk through loss of exports affecting about 39 companies.

PM assures
commitment
Commodore Bainimarama reiterated the Fijian Government’s commitment to a future of equality and opportunity for all Fijians, including ensuring the rights of its working people are protected and extended.
“My government considers it paramount to safeguard Fijian people’s livelihoods and jobs,” he said in a statement.
“In this regard, addressing issues raised about Fiji’s provision of internationally-recognised worker rights is of the highest priority.”

Impact of Fijians
Commodore Bainimarama said: “We are very concerned about the potential impact of losing duty-free entry for so many of Fiji’s products into the US market if Fiji is no longer an eligible country under the US GSP scheme.”
He stressed Fiji was a family-based society and the loss of 15,000 jobs would affect 75,000 people – which is more than eight per cent of our population.

Labour law review
“As part of Fiji’s progress toward establishing a parliamentary democracy, we are reviewing our current labour laws to ensure their compliance with the 34 International Labour Organisation Conventions that Fiji has ratified,” he said.
“The Employment Relations Advisory Board comprised of representatives from Government, trade unions, and employers is undertaking this review process.
“We are committed to protecting all Fijian workers and we will soon adopt Fiji’s first national minimum wage to ensure that they receive fair earnings as well.”
Commodore Bainimarama indicated Government was equally committed to providing help through Fiji’s National Employment Centre to create meaningful employment opportunities for young adults and others who sought work.
“We seek to ensure that unions can take collective action as directed by their member workers and are subject only to restrictions that are generally accepted to protect the public good,” he said.
“We also seek to protect the rights of those workers who choose not to affiliate with unions.
“We look forward to bringing the US government up to date about Fiji’s government-wide reforms, which include our labour laws.”
The Prime Minister said these reforms had been undertaken to prepare for adoption of a new Constitution next year and for holding democratic elections in 2014.
“We also look forward to establishing an informal labour dialogue with appropriate US officials to exchange ideas and views,” he said.




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