Letters

Letters April 10, 2015

Reply to FPSA response B. Qionibaravi, Namadi Heights, Suva It is rather a pity that having read the interview of the Attorney-General published in the Fiji Sun in the last
10 Apr 2015 09:48
Letters April 10, 2015

Reply to FPSA response

B. Qionibaravi, Namadi Heights, Suva

It is rather a pity that having read the interview of the Attorney-General published in the Fiji Sun in the last few days regarding labour relations in Fiji, we get a lacklustre reaction from the general secretary of FPSA.

Here is the Government trying to move on to a 21st century modern way of dealing with labour relations and being conciliatory and yet, we get such an unfortunate response from the general secretary of FPSA, Rajeshwar Singh.

From what I can read from the interview is that the issue about the civil servant who admitted to stealing and who was defended by FPSA to have him re-instated, was actually about the values that the trade unions stand for. If somebody has admitted to stealing and has stolen public funds, whether it is $3,000 or whether it is $15,000, the point is whether the unions should be fighting such a case to get such a person reinstated?

That’s obviously what the AG was trying to say and that’s the point that was obviously lost by Rajeshwar Singh. Should unions be defending people who have admitted to stealing?

Shouldn’t the unions also subscribe to being honest? If they are keen on defending their members who are dishonest and have stolen, what type of workforce and culture are they creating?

It is obviously quite apparent that civil servants had two statutory processes available to them whereas others in the private sector did not.

The fact of the matter is that under the previous process, if a public servant had an employment grievance, he/she would go to the Public Service Appeals Board (‘PSAB’). If he/she was not happy with the decision of the PSAB then he/she would take the matter to the High Court by way of judicial review.

On the other hand, independently of this procedure, he/she could also file a grievance/dispute under the Employment Relations Promulgation which would then go through the processes of mediation, then to the Employment Relations Tribunal and ultimately to the Employment Relations Court.

Isn’t this double-dipping by anyone’s standards? Does this mean that civil servants should have more rights than the employees in the private sector?

It is a pity that Rajeshwar Singh is attempting to split hairs about Range Rovers or Land Rovers or even BMWs for that matter.

The fact is that all these vehicles are expensive vehicles and are purchased from the financial interests of FPSA members.

I find it quite perplexing that Rajeshwar Singh asserts that the money used to purchase the vehicle came from the business investment arm of FPSA. Surely, the business investment arm of FPSA is not a personal fund but is a fund for the benefit of the members of FPSA.  Therefore it is laughable for Rajeshwar Singh to say that the vehicle was not purchased from union dues.

Surely any business that is run by FPSA is run for the members of FPSA and the benefits must accrue to the members and not to Rajeshwar Singh in the form of a lavish and posh vehicle at

the expense of the members of FPSA.

My appeal to Rajeshwar Singh is that he follows AG’s lead and be circumspect and look at the big picture, be objective, get rid of his antagonistic approach and put our Fiji and all Fijians first.

It would appear that Felix Anthony is now way ahead of Rajeshwar Singh, at least in this respect.

 Elite schools

Apisalome Waqatabu, Port Vila, Vanuatu

This “elitism” issue needs to be looked at very seriously before it explodes in our faces. I went to Ratu Kadavulevu School (RKS), Lodoni and would never consider myself or my parents for that matter as being part of the elite.

Being brought up by my grandparents with my grandmother being the sole bread winner as a primary school teacher, we were given the very basics in life.

We never had any TV back home, and we studied under the benzene lantern every night. I was able to get to Lodoni through a lot of hard work, and I met the minimum marks required in the intermediate exams.

I am now an expatriate working overseas and I would like to have my two sons attend the same school, if they meet the minimum marks required.

To deny them the right to go to Lodoni or Queen Victoria School (QVS), Matavatucou,  just because they were born in Suva (even if they meet the minimum marks required) is totally wrong.

I can tell you that they are both doing well in school and I have no doubt that they will meet the required standard to go to any of these two schools.

My eldest son is looking forward to attend either Lodoni or Matavatucou next year, but by the looks of things, this will never happen. They are both really disappointed. What can they do – since this is a government policy?

Response to Reddy

Tagici Lili King Suva

A young student lass recently died because of alleged adult bullying.

Now we have the Minister calling the student population of ACS, QVS and RKS ‘elite’. He will have no more of them kind.

How does that make them feel? They whose parents moved from their villages and island homes so they could get into a good school.They who toiled to meet the qualifying mark for entry as stipulated by the Government. They whose parents are likely to be civil servants who serve their country selflessly are now branded ‘elite.’

If you are a good employer wouldn’t you take care of your workforce? Is it then wrong for children of civil servants to make up a good proportion of these boarding schools.

A perspective. My family is not unique in how often we moved around the country. Being a government teacher, my father’s postings move our family 7 times. Lakeba, Lau; Vatukoula, Nanukuloa, Ra, Lodoni.

The education system in Fiji has made great strides since independence. Junior secondary schools were established  for secondary needs in rural and island schools. Some progressed into full secondary schools.

To fill the gap, Nasinu Secondary was created but that is no more as FNU has taken over the facilities. A social issue that is prevalent when moving children away from their villages etc is the need for families to be with their children throughout their schooling, rather than having them stay with relatives. Never the best option.

Picking to reconfigure the 3 largest Fijian government boarding schools. Yet there are 3 other government schools strategically located in urban centres, near seaports and transport systems that he could have chosen. Suva Grammar could have a hostel built to cater for the Central & Eastern Division; Natabua to increase their boarding capacity for the Western Division and Labasa College to add a bigger hostel for the Northern Division. Government could also assist St Joseph’s and Marist Brothers to add or increase their hostel capacity for his toppers to be.Why bring them out of their rural/islands  & put them in another rural area which costs extra for transport alone.

Minister Vuniwaqa has held public meetings to gain more insight into her area of responsibility. Reddy should follow her lead.

Has he ever visited these schools to see for himself the state of the facilities or how much the parents & ex-students have contributed to the welfare of the students. I urge him to call several public meetings so we can talk. I would also ask that he give us the papers he read from which he made his decision. Of the 62 foundation students of ACS in 1948, about 9 are still living. To call them elite discounts their humble village upbringing and the hard work they endured to lay the foundation for the best school for girls. Ms Taufa Vakatale,  (No 61) ex-MP & Minister, is a testament to that. A whopper indeed!

Consumer council response

Premila Kumar, Chief executive officer, Consumer Council of Fiji

We refer to comments by the President, Fiji Rental Car Association, Mr. Mohammed Sareem (Response to Consumer Council‟ Fiji Sun 28/03/15).

We wish to reiterate that the Council is not making assumptions. The fact is that the rental car sector is marred with real problems which need urgent attention given that the rental car industry is one of the key services in the important tourism industry.

Also, Mr Sareem himself admitted that his association had received concerns from the tourism association that some rental companies were “below standards”. He also said “we see a lot of companies operating and many complaints received” (Fiji Sun, 26/05/14, p.8). In the case referred to by Mr. Sareem, we wish to clarify that we had communicated the matter to him and his association and this is on record.

The Council was not obliged to bring the case to the Association, however we opted to communicate with Mr. Sareem on the basis that his association had been established to improve standards in the rental car business.

However, the Association did not take any concrete action and there was little co-operation from the rental company, despite the fact that there was a beach of fair trading laws. The non-cooperation of the rental company and laxity of Mr. Sareem’s esteemed Association in dealing with the matter compelled the Council to refer the matter to the regulatory agency – the Fiji Commerce Commission (FCC) for action.

Mr. Sareem‟s claims that the Council just wanted to gain media attention is baseless. The Council seeks the assistance of the media not for itself but as an effective means of reaching out to consumers.

We use the media to highlight real cases and advise consumers on what to look out for and what to avoid when dealing with rental companies. In May 2014, Mr Sareem’s association was reported to have established a disciplinary committee, however, to date, there is very little known about this committee and what actions have been taken again unscrupulous members.

Mr Sareem had stated that “members are liable for fine or expulsion for breaking rules of the Association” (Fiji Sun, 26/05/14, p.8).

One of the reasons for the establishment of industry groups like the Fiji Rental Car Association was to improve standards, business practices and prevent unscrupulous traders from  entering the market.

By addressing consumer complaints effectively, the Association will be in a better position to detect bad business practices and curb these.

On the issue of illegal rental cars, this is a matter that the Association should raise with the LTA and not the Council.

In fact the Association, if it is committed to protecting its members should take responsibility and the lead role in creating awareness to rental car users about the risks of using illegal operators. For Mr. Sareem‟s information, complaints received by the Council against rental car companies have all been from legal operators.

Tailevu;Matavatucou,Tailevu, Lomaloma, Lau & finally Suva.  For me ACS was a steady “home & school” environment.

The education system in Fiji has made great strides since independence. Junior secondary schools were established  for secondary needs in rural and island schools. Some progressed into full secondary schools. To fill the gap, Nasinu Secondary was created but that is no more as FNU has taken over the facilities. A social issue that is prevalent when moving children away from their villages etc is the need for families to be with their children throughout their schooling, rather than having them stay with relatives. Never the best option.

Reddy now appears to be racist. Picking to reconfigure the 3 largest Fijian government boarding schools. Yet there are 3 other government schools strategically located in urban centres, near seaports and transport systems that he could have chosen. Suva Grammar could have a hostel built to cater for the Central & Eastern Division; Natabua to increase their boarding capacity for the Western Division and Labasa College to add a bigger hostel for the Northern Division. Government could also assist St Joseph’s and Marist Brothers to add or increase their hostel capacity for his toppers to be.Why bring them out of their rural/islands  & put them in another rural area which costs extra for transport alone.

Minister Vuniwaqa has held public meetings to gain more insight into her area of responsibility. Reddy should follow her lead.

Has he ever visited these schools to see for himself the state of the facilities or how much the parents & ex-students have contributed to the welfare of the students. I urge him to call several public meetings so we can talk. I would also ask that he give us the papers he read from which he made his decision. Of the 62 foundation students of ACS in 1948, about 9 are still living. To call them elite discounts their humble village upbringing and the hard work they endured to lay the foundation for the best school for girls. Ms Taufa Vakatale,  (No 61) ex-MP & Minister, is a testament to that. A whopper indeed!

 

 




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