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State works with union

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

FIJI could be placed under the International Labour Organization spotlight if Government does not make good on promises made to the workers in the country such as reviewing labour laws and defining what makes an industry or entity an essential service.

"We certainly hope we achieve this because if we don't, then Fiji will be back on the International Labour Organization's agenda and that won't be a good place to be," said Fiji Trades Union Congress national secretary Felix Anthony.

He said Government had been given more than enough time to make good on promises made when it signed an agreement at the ILO in Geneva in 2015.

"We had signed the agreement in good faith and the time for stalling and baulking is over. It is time for action and we are optimistic that Government will come to the party," he said.

"I am saying this because Government met with us and the Fiji Commerce and Employers last week on Friday and they sounded very positive. They want the labour laws reviewed by February and have promised to give us a definition on essential industries."

Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation CEO Nesbitt Hazelman said he was also optimistic that issues could be ironed out amicably.

"We are more concerned with outstanding issues to the 2015 agreement and two of the key issues that have been raised by the workers representative," he said.

"One is the review of essential national industries and second is review of labour laws. I am optimistic we can complete that in the first quarter of next year."

The 2015 agreement, signed at the 11th hour by Government, FTUC and FCEF starved off a possible commission of inquiry by the ILO.

Under the agreement, signed in March in Geneva, Government promised to allow workers to conduct collective bargaining, allowed for freedom of association and also their rights as outlined in ILO core conventions.

Under the tripartite agreement, the parties consented to review labour laws including the Essential National Industries Decree under the ERAB mechanism.

However, the FTUC has maintained that the recent pay increases linked to individual contracts introduced by Government for civil servants, Registrar of Trade Unions not supervising secret ballots and other issues were all in direct contravention of the signed agreement, 2013 Constitution and labour laws.

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