NEWS

Fiji Unions Hint At Likely Merger

General secretary Paula Manumanunitoga said talks had started with FTU and the ground rules for the unification of the two worker bodies were being discussed. He added that this should send a clear message to people who think FTA membership was based on race. He said the union had no political affiliations or motives.
03 Jun 2019 11:46
Fiji Unions Hint At Likely Merger
Minister for Education Rosy Akbar with Fijian Teachers Association Vice President Professional Monika Vakalalabure at FTA hall on April 23, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The Fijian Teachers Association (FTA) has hinted at a possible merger with the Fiji Teachers Union (FTU), uniting teachers under one banner.

General secretary Paula Manumanunitoga said talks had started with FTU and the ground rules for the unification of the two worker bodies were being discussed.

He added that this should send a clear message to people who think FTA membership was based on race. He said the union had no political affiliations or motives.

Mr Manumanunitoga said the FTA was called the Native Teachers Association when it was established in 1934.

“It was then started by the British. In those days they kept us separate, the Fijians of Indian descent and the iTaukei. They had their reasons to do so. Now that we are all Fijians, it is different,” he said.

“And FTU has always had Fijians of Indian descent as members and for us the iTaukei only, they were separated in that way.

“But now, FTU has opened their doors and we opened ours. In fact, we have some members who are Fijians of Indian descent.”

FTU has always said its membership is open to everybody regardless of race and religion. It has 5000 members, of which 2000 are iTaukei and some have been members for more than 30 years.

In contrast, FTA has 4000 members, of which only 100 are Fijians of Indian descent.

Earlier this year, the two major umbrella union bodies, Fiji Trades Union Congress and Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions merged.

This has solidified the union movement in Fiji, giving more representation to the workers.

FTA said a merger was on the horizon, but there were a few things to iron out.

FTU general secretary Agni Deo Singh has opted not to comment on this matter.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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