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Unionist: Fiji Airways Didn’t Hold Talks

The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) has questioned the manner of the termination of some Fiji Airways employees yesterday. General secretary Felix Anthony called on Government to investigate how the
26 May 2020 16:48
Unionist: Fiji Airways Didn’t Hold Talks
Fiji Trades Union Congress general secretary Felix Anthony

The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) has questioned the manner of the termination of some Fiji Airways employees yesterday.

General secretary Felix Anthony called on Government to investigate how the national airline he believed flouted the Employment Relations Act (ERA).

Fiji Airways response

In response Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and chief executive officer, said: “Fiji Airways appreciates the impact of today’s announcement on our colleagues who have regrettably had their employment terminated.

“This was an extremely difficult decision, and one that was made only after all other avenues were exhausted, in order to ensure Fiji Airways’ survival.

“Fiji Airways is in the same position as most other airlines, having to pay recurrent fixed costs, but earning next to zero revenue. In the circumstances, it was simply not sustainable for the Company to continue to pay salaries to employees who are not working. “Today’s terminations were based upon the Company’s inability to provide work to affected employees; this was not a restructuring/redundancy process.

“All Fiji Airways employees have been regularly updated on the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Company, and the need for increasingly drastic actions if the situation did not improve.

“All applicable laws were adhered to.

“This is a sad day for our Company, and our thoughts are with our colleagues who, like many people around the world, have lost their jobs as a consequence of this unprecedented global Pandemic,” Mr Viljoen said.

Mr Anthony said Fiji Airways should have notified the union one month prior to the proposed termination and embarked on a redundancy process which the law allows under Sections 106 and 107 of the ERA.

He further added Fiji Airways should have notified the union 30 days prior to this action, so that negotiations could be entered into to minimise or mitigate the termination.

He said redundancy under economic reasons were in order but summary termination of employees was not the right path to follow.

“Fiji Airways, without any prior notice to the employees or the Fiji Flight Attendants Trade Union decided to terminate the employment of 758 workers,” he said.

Consulted and negotiations

Mr Anthony said the workers should have been consulted and negotiations conducted prior to any actions being taken.

He added this was not done and the terminations have “come out of the blue” and he was not expecting such behaviour from management.

“Employers also have a social responsibility to employees to ensure workers are treated unfairly. This is unfair and unjust and Fiji Airways should have had consultations with the union.

As FTUC we are concerned these are terminations and could not be done without a cause – a valid reason why an employee is terminated.”

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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