Urai deplores remarks

FIJI Trades Union Congress national president Dan Urai says comment made by Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate in Parliament that there have been no legal strikes in the past 10 years was “nothing to be proud of”.

“While they have laws that allow people to go on strike on paper, in practice it is a totally different matter,” he claimed.

Mr Urai claimed there were two very clear examples where the minister’s order that illegal strike action had been taken had been overturned by the court.

“In 2012 when Sheraton workers walked out and went on strike, the minister immediately put out that the strike was illegal,” he claimed.

“When the matter was taken to court, everyone that had been taken into custody was cleared because they had not broken any law.

“The second was when the ATS saga happened, Mr Usamate immediately declared it an illegal strike.

“Thirty-four days later the court ruled that it was not the case, the workers all got paid because they were locked out.

“He needs to review his statement.

“The manner and way they have put out the legislation determines that any union that takes a legal process can still be declared illegal by them.”

Speaking in Parliament last Thursday on labour reforms, Mr Usamate said there had been no legal strikes since the inception of new legislation in 2008.

“Under the old law, from 2003 to 2008, we had a total of 60 strikes,” he said.

“This law came into place in 2008, and since that time to-date, there have only been a total of two strikes that were recorded but was declared unlawful as the workers had walked off their jobs without completing the necessary processes which require constant dialogue to try to resolve the issues.”

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