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Fiji among the worst

Ropate Valemei
Saturday, May 31, 2014

FIJI has been rated one of the worst countries in the world for workers.

The rating from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) survey rates Fiji as a five on their scale, a rating given to the worst countries in the world to work in.

It states that while legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

By comparison Australia is rated in category three for regular violation of rights where the government and/or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights or are failing to fully guarantee important aspects of these rights.

New Zealand is in category two where certain rights have come under the repeated attack by government and/or companies and have undermined the struggle for better working conditions.

And violations against workers are not absent but do not occur on a regular basis.

Fiji is ranked with Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Greece, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU) acting general secretary Kamlesh Kumar says FICTU was not surprised by the ratings because workers' rights in Fiji have been taken away.

He said when issues were taken up to the Ministry of Labour of ill-treatment and violation of workers' rights by employers, little was done by the ministry.

However, the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) argue the rating is an over exaggeration and trade unions do exist and continue to operate.

"There are redress mechanisms in place through the Employment Regulation Promulgation and other in-house dispute resolution mechanisms," FCEF CEO Nesbitt Hazelman said.

"Collective bargaining continues to take place, we now have enterprise based in-house unions to deal with issues closer to the workplace eliminating the need for an external third party."

He said the rating was to be expected, based on adverse reports submitted to ICTU in recent times adding there was a consistent lobby to discredit Fiji to the ILO.

The Labour Ministry said it would not be able to comment on the issue unless it was from the International Labour Organisation.

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