Analysis

Trade Unionists Should Not Play Politics At The Expense Of Workers’ Welfare

The timing is deliberate because it coincides with the Asian Development Bank annual meeting on Denarau in Nadi. It is aimed at drawing the atten­tion of the delegates to outstanding trade union grievances against the Government, part of a desperate bid to force its hands.
16 Apr 2019 14:10
Trade Unionists Should Not Play Politics At The Expense Of Workers’ Welfare
Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) General Secretary Felix Anthony

Felix Anthony stood beside Parveen Bala last week in Suva with International Labour Or­ganisation officials to cut the ILO’s 100th anniversary cake.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress Na­tional Secretary and the Minister for Employment Productivity wore the same blue bula shirt and similar type of garlands.

Symbolically you would think they were singing from the same songbook.

But it’s now apparent they weren’t because the FTUC has been planning a national day of strike on May 3.

The timing is deliberate because it coincides with the Asian Development Bank annual meeting on Denarau in Nadi. It is aimed at drawing the atten­tion of the delegates to outstanding trade union grievances against the Government, part of a desperate bid to force its hands.

It’s all about a national minimum wage. The FTUC has been clamouring for $4 an hour.

The protest plan appears to have taken a sinister twist. Union members have allegedly been asked to take Sick and Family Care Leave because the protest March permit has not been granted.

This is totally unacceptable!

Using Sick and Family Care Leave is a serious abuse of this employment benefit.

They are given for specific purposes to help individuals and their families. To use them for a trade union purpose is irresponsible and even unlawful, if proven.

It is also irresponsible to target a ma­jor international meeting to air their concerns. They do not realise that the overall impact could come back to haunt the workers, the people that trade unionists claim they are fighting for.

Why can’t they use the mechanisms already in place to discuss their griev­ances.

Last year, the unions walked out of the Employment Relations Advisory Board (ERAB) in protest against the Government’s position. Whether they have gone back is not clear, but dia­logue is the best way.

They should return to the processes that will arrive at a resolution.

Union members should not allow their trade union leaders to use them for their political agenda.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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