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No resolution to 21-year-old miners' strike

Repeka Nasiko
Saturday, September 01, 2012

FORMER Vatukoula goldminers who have been on strike for the last 21 years have yet to receive any resolution of their grievances despite promises of redress.

While making submissions to the Constitution Commission in Vatukoula yesterday, Fiji Mine Workers Union president Josefa Sadreu said no solution had been reached since 2007.

"The reason we are making these submissions to the commission is because in 2007, when the current government took over, we were promised resolution of our strike by the following government representatives at a meeting held at the Fiji Human Rights Commission on 23rd April 2007," he said.

"These representatives were (then) Captain Esala Teleni, former deputy commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, (then) Captain Neumi Leweni former military spokesman and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum," Mr Sadreu told the commission.

He said after the 2007 meeting nothing much eventuated and the former director of the Human Rights Commission, Doctor Shaista Shameem, wrote regularly to the Attorney-General seeking updates to which there were no responses given.

"Subsequently, our union and the Human Rights Commission decided to take the matter to the court through the mechanisms of Chapter 4 of the 1997 Constitution and specifically under section 33 on Fair Labour Practices and also the Human Rights Commission Act 1999.

"However, before our application could be filed in court, the 1997 Constitution was thrown out. That was in April 2009. At the same time the Human Rights Commission and Ombudsman's Office became defunct. In 2009, the Fiji Mine Workers Union formally withdrew our case from the Human Rights Commission. Instead we decided to send our complaint directly to the International Labour Organisation in Geneva."

Mr Sadreu said the complaint was drafted in the form of a communication, and sent to the Committee on Freedom of Association and to the Committee of Experts of the ILO.





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