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EDITORIAL: Time To Sit Down And Talk

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has extended the olive branch to the trade unions. He wants the unions to work with his Government and end the standoff over the Employment
01 Jul 2015 11:50
EDITORIAL: Time To Sit Down And Talk

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has extended the olive branch to the trade unions.

He wants the unions to work with his Government and end the standoff over the Employment Relations Promulgation Bill (2015).

He says Government is ready to work with the unions.

Mr Bainimarama must be commended for making this announcement. He shows that he really has the interests of the nation at heart.

He also shows that he does not believe in confrontation but in dialogue.

The ball is now in the Fiji Trades Union Congress court . Let’s hope that the FTUC will take up the offer and make good use of this opportunity to discuss their grievances.

Mr Bainimarama said: “I have no qualms with the unions and I am ready to work with them but their representatives need to come with an open mind with an intention to move the country forward.”

The complication that observers see is that some of union leaders wear two hats (political and trade union) and they don’t separate them.

Mixing the two hats often lead to misunderstanding and confusion, complicating any meaningful discussions. Unionists should hang their political hat outside before they walk in to attend their meeting.

This is a golden opportunity to have another go at the tripartite forum. The employers are already on board. It’s now left to the unions to come on board as well.

They can carve a new future in industrial relations in this country and a good place to start from is Singapore. Its model of tripartism has stood the test of time and has been responsible for the growing strength of Singapore’s economy.

This is no time to be playing politics because the livelihoods of many people in this country are at stake.

If the Government, FTUC and the employers fail to strike a deal, there are serious implications.

The International Labour Organisation’s Governing Body will order a Commission of Inquiry in Fiji. The inquiry could mean sanctions against Fiji by overseas unions in support of their Fijian counterparts. That would trigger a snowballing effect on our overseas trade. Ultimately, it will lead to possible loss of jobs.

Imagine what it would do the image of this country.

Things have been running pretty well for the economy since the general election last year.

It would be a pity if all this progress goes down the drain.

So it’s important that when they finally sit down, the tripartite members are willing to make compromises in the national interest.

The last thing we want to see is allow selfish interests take precedence over the people’s welfare.

 

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 




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