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Carpenter Getting Job Back, Lost Pay Plus Compensation

Manueli Yawayawa spent the nine months of his life at home, trying to find alternate work and with a cloud hanging over his head with regards to his former employment.
13 Feb 2017 13:12
Carpenter Getting Job Back, Lost Pay Plus Compensation

Manueli Yawayawa spent the nine months of his life at home, trying to find alternate work and with a cloud hanging over his head with regards to his former employment.

However his faith in his trade union, the National Union of Workers (NUW), kept him positive.

His patience has been rewarded with the Employment Relations Tribunal reinstating him to his former position as senior carpenter with Toll Construction Company Limited.

The tribunal has also ordered the company to reimburse Mr Yawayawa’s all lost wages from the time he was told to leave Malolo Island, where the company was carrying out works on March 12, last year to the hearing date of the case which was July 29.

The company was further ordered to pay a further four months wages as compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to the feelings of Mr Yawayawa.

Chief Tribunal Sainivalati Kuruduadua said the actions by the company breached the Constitution and the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP), in particular the good faith provisions and those guaranteeing the rights of the union and workers under ILO (International Labour Organisation) Convention 87 and 98 which dealt with Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise for the Purposes of Collective Bargaining respectively.

Mr Yawayawa, 43, had been with the company for eight months prior to his suspension for recruiting members for the union which he did after working hours.

He was told to leave the island the same day by senior company officials.

He was then handed his suspension letter by the company’s general manager Luke Mataika on March 22, last year and advised he was suspended for one week with pay.

He was asked to sign the suspension letter and resume work on March 29 but refused saying he needed to consult the NUW and thereafter had his employment terminated.

NUW General Secretary Felix Anthony made several attempts to resolve the case with the company but was unsuccessful and the matter was referred to the ERT.

Mr Anthony was happy over the decision saying this should be a wakeup call for other employers who were refusing to deal with trade unions.

Mr Kuruduadua said: “That used to be the practice in the early 1970’s, under the repealed Trade Unions (Recognition) Act.

“In this case the union has initiated bargaining but the employer has refused to engage and therefore breached the Code of Good Faith in relation to collective bargaining.”

Mr Kuruduadua said it was now up to NUW if it wanted to report a trade dispute on that issue.

He said he agreed Mr Yawayawa’s termination was because of his union membership and associated activities as the company could not prove otherwise.

“Mr Yawayawa was the champion of workers’ rights on the worksite and to be terminated and removed from the island was humiliating and led to loss of dignity and that the termination was unfair.”

Mr Yawayawa said he was proud to be a union member and also the work put in by Mr Anthony.

“I will go back to work next week as right now there is no boat from Yasawa because of the bad weather.”

Mr Yawayawa said he would return also to complete his union work and that was to sign up more than 400 employees who were working there.

“I am so happy because it had taken a burden off my shoulder as my wife was the only one working and I had to stay home and look after our three children.”


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