NEWS

FTUC Faces Scrutiny

The Fiji Trades Union Congress will be told today to stop playing politics and respect the law. One of the key FTUC affiliates, the Fiji Public Service Association, has filed
07 Feb 2015 13:49
FTUC Faces Scrutiny

The Fiji Trades Union Congress will be told today to stop playing politics and respect the law.

One of the key FTUC affiliates, the Fiji Public Service Association, has filed two motions to this effect.

The motions will be discussed at the FTUC’s 45th Biennial Delegates Congress which starts at 10.30 this morning at the Hexagon International Hotel, Nadi.

The FPSA is one of the country’s largest public sector unions and has a membership of about 3000 civil servants.

Its general secretary, Rajeshwar Singh, will go head to head against incumbent Felix Anthony in the high profile FTUC general secretary post election.

In its motions, the FPSA has called on the FTUC to “sever all ties” with the People’s Democratic Party. Mr Anthony was the PDP leader in last year’s general election but failed to win a seat. He quit soon after the results were announced and returned to his trade union roles ( general secretary for FTUC and Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union) which he resigned from to contest the election. His return is also an issue raised in the motions. They said Mr Anthony should have waited for the elections today if he wanted to get back in. But he just rolled back in.

The FPSA claimed FTUC affiliates did not support the PDP because other political parties offered more attractive policies. It said the FTUC should not have been used to form the PDP.

“As a result the National Centre is politicised and now suffers the consequences of that decision, which was misread, misjudged and above all, invited the wrath of the Government in its attitude towards trade unions,” the FPSA said.

“The FTUC will not gain anything by being affiliated to PDP. On the contrary, it will continue to be shunned by the Government for its political affiliation to PDP.”

The motions also discussed the status of the FTUC.

“The BDC is invited to deliberate on the issues raised in these motions for the FTUC to remain relevant under the current legislative circumstances and consider new strategies to advance its status as a voice of the workers in Fiji,” the motions said.

In a new twist to the continuing FTUC saga, Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem, said last night that FTUC was not on the list of registered trade unions supplied to his office by the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations.

This means he cannot intervene in the FTUC elections this morning. Under the Electoral Decree he conducts elections for all trade unions. He only goes by the list that was given to him.

If the FTUC is not a trade union then what is it?

Acting Permanent Secretary for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Osea Cawaru, could not be reached by phone to comment last night. Questions were texted to his mobile but he had not responded when this edition went to press.

The revelation that the FTUC is not a trade union was discussed around trade union circles last night. If it is not a trade union, how is it that it is collecting fees from affiliates and speaking on behalf of workers. Its officials attend International Labour Organisation (ILO) meetings overseas. They also sit on boards in a tripartite arrangement, representing workers.

In another development, the FTUC’s commercial arm, the Fiji Trades Union Congress (Holdings) Limited, was given notice last month to submit its annual returns since 2006 to the Companies Office. As of yesterday, it had not responded.

The company issue was also raised in the FPSA motions.

In the elections today, Daniel Urai is unopposed as president. (See chart for other nominations). Mr Anthony could not be reached to comment despite repeated attempts. Mr Urai told FBC that the Nadi meeting was on but declined to comment further.

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