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Geneva has become a battlefield of sorts as allegations surface that Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) general secretary Felix Anthony is actively lobbying against Fiji. A Fijian delegation headed by
23 Mar 2015 17:14
Showdown

Geneva has become a battlefield of sorts as allegations surface that Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) general secretary Felix Anthony is actively lobbying against Fiji.

A Fijian delegation headed by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is also in Geneva for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) meet, where Fiji is making presentation.

FTUC will make a presentation on Wednesday, but not as part of the Fijian delegation.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it was a pity that while Fiji was taking steps to rectify some laws in the country, the Essential Industries Decree among them, FTUC was actively lobbying for a commission of inquiry.

Mr Anthony’s lobbying has prompted questions on whether he has the unions’, its workers’ and Fiji’s best interests in mind.

“FTUC, from what we understand are going around in Geneva lobbying against Fiji and calling for a commission of inquiry. A commission of inquiry is not in the best interest of the workers, it is not in the best interest of businesses and employers and it is not in the best interest of Fiji,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“It is a pity that FTUC is hell bent on undermining all the good work that has been done and is not will-

-ing to work with Government. It’s trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer.”

FTUC president Daniel Urai, who is in the country and did not go to Geneva, said they were willing to work with Government.

“It is not FTUC that wants a Commission of Inquiry.

“Fiji is a member of the ILO and it has terms and conditions that member countries must follow.

“Fiji has been identified by the ILO to be in breach of core labour convention that it has ratified through the introduction of the ENI decree and other decrees promulgated after the 2006 event.

“As a Member State, Fiji has certain obligations to follow.

“What FTUC has done is made a report to the governing body of the ILO that the rules put in the decree by the Fijian Government are in violation of the conventions that have been ratified.”

He said the governing body of ILO had decided for a commission of inquiry.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said issues that FTUC raised could easily be sorted out within Fiji by all stakeholders.

“While we are baffled by their position, Government is still hopeful that at the 11th hour, FTUC will change their position,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said at the end of the day, issues should not be for individual aggrandisement.

He said Government was open to the idea of working with FTUC and all unions for the betterment of the nation.

“We ourselves realise that there is room for improvement.

“The Chief Justice has already written to the International Labour Organisation asking for training of judicial officers in dealing with labour cases and the Chief Registrar has also written to the ILO asking for training for lawyers in dealing with labour laws,” he said.

Government has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation on the review of the Essential Industries Decree.

FTUC is yet to sign this.

Industries that come under the ambit of the decree have three weeks to give in suggestions about its review.

The People’s Democratic Party leader, who contested the elections under the 2013 Constitution, is also said to have been lobbying against the 2013 Constitution.

Mr Anthony could not be reached for comments in Geneva.

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