SUNCITY

Do Top Five Have Mandate To Say No?

Struggle takes political turn as trade unionists battle to stay relevant The country’s top five trade unionists must explain whether they have a mandate to reject the joint tripartite report
18 Oct 2015 09:26
Do Top Five Have Mandate To Say No?
Nemani-Delaibatiki

Struggle takes political turn as trade unionists battle to stay relevant

The country’s top five trade unionists must explain whether they have a mandate to reject the joint tripartite report to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Was their decision voted in a general meeting by members of their respective unions?

Or was it their unilateral decision to be rubber stamped by the members later?

The five are: Felix Anthony (Fiji Trades Union Congress and Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union general secretary), Daniel Urai (FTUC president, National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Industries Employees general secretary), Agni Deo (FTUC treasurer and Fiji Teachers Union general secretary), Attar Singh (president of Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions) and Rajeshwar Singh (Fiji Public Service Association general secretary).

Some of them are likely to face questions from their members because of the implications of their position.

The ILO has threatened that it will institute a Commission of Inquiry into Fiji if the trade unions, Government and employers fail to submit a joint report about labour reforms by next month.

The unions’ refusal to sign the report could backfire and  hurt the economy and jobs.

There is a growing concern among workers about its implications on their future. Some questions are being asked whether there was a meeting to discuss the issue and if a vote was taken on this important subject.

The FTUC simply boycotted the tripartite talks in the Employment Relations Advisory Board (ERAB) meeting because of the attendance of its rival, the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU).

It had earlier criticised the Government for allegedly ignoring its submission. The Government had considered it and made concessions which were rejected. The FICTU also refused to sign the joint report claiming it fell short of what it expected. Then we have the FPSA, which broke away from the FTUC, also opposing the Government position.

It’s surprising that here we have unions not talking to each other, but taking the same position on the joint report to ILO.

It’s a last desperate attempt for these trade unionists to stay relevant in a stable and peaceful industrial relations environment. Already there are moves by a group of workers in one industry to break away from its trade union and form a Bargaining Unit so the workers’ voice can be heard.

The workers claim they have been neglected by their union.

The unit is allowed by the new Employment Relations Amendment Act 2015 which the trade unions strongly oppose because it would weaken their numerical strength. The trade unions represent less than 30 per cent of the country’s total workforce.

The unionists’ struggle is politically motivated because they want to change the Constitution and the Political Parties decree too.

feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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