FIJI NEWS

Threat to walk out, unionists’ role queried

By ROSI DOVIVERATA What started off as teething prolems in Fiji’s newest political party, the People’s Democratic Party is starting to look serious. It is understood that party spokesman, Nirmal
29 Jan 2014 09:22
Nirmal Singh

Nirmal Singh

By ROSI DOVIVERATA

What started off as teething prolems in Fiji’s newest political party, the People’s Democratic Party is starting to look serious.
It is understood that party spokesman, Nirmal Singh, threatened to walk out of the party if trade unionists continue to be involved in party affairs.
Felix Anthony is the National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and general secretary of the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union. He is also one of the founders of the new party.
Daniel Urai is president of the Fiji Trades Union Congress.
Since last year, the pair have been speaking at various PDP branch set-up around the country.
Their role in the party is now being questioned because of the rules set out in the Political Parties Decree regarding the involvement of trade unionists.
Trade unionists, among others, are not eligible to hold office in a political party. They shall “not engage in political activity that may compromise or e seen to compromise the political neutrality of that persons office,” the Decree states.
If Mr Anthony does not relinquish his role as a trade unionist and continue in party politics, he may well jeopardise the very existence of the party he helped to set up.

Party stand
PDP secretary, Sat Narayan confirmed yesterday that Mr Singh was still the party spokesman.
On the role of Mr Anthony in the party, he said: “You know the party was formed by the trade union. They are not officials but it depends if they want to speak, they speak at party meetings on invitation.”
On the Political Parties Decree and the involvement of trade unionists, Mr Narayan said that the matter is a legal one that they will have to deliberate on.

Workshop
To do that, the party is planning to hold a workshop on Friday to clarify issues and questions party officials may have. Mr Narayan said they are trying to get a constitutional law expert, an economics expert and executives from the employers federation.
“We hope this will iron out any doubts and questions,” he said.

Nirmal Singh
When contacted yesterday, Mr Singh was not available for a comment. However, it is understood that he has been meeting with senior party officials since last week to determine his next step.
An announcement is expected to be made on the weekend.

Felix Anthony
Apart from his role in the trade unioni movement, Mr Anthony was elected to Parliament after the 2006 General Election.
He stood in the Vuda Open Constituency for the Fiji Labour Party (FLP). After his election, he had a fall-out with the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, over the way the Senate nominees were chosen.
Attempts to contact Mr Anthony were not answered when this edition went to press.



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