Anthony refutes minister’s comments

Fiji Trades Union Congress general secretary Felix Anthony and Fijian Teachers Union general secretary Agni Deo Singh. Picture: FT FILE

FIJI Trades Union Congress general secretary Felix Anthony has spoken out against the comments made by the Minister for Education, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, on the Fiji Teachers Union and their members.

While speaking at a press conference in Lautoka yesterday, he said the FTUC was unhappy with the confrontational approach Government had taken against trade unions.

“We have seen that the A-G has chosen to attack the teachers union today (yesterday) in one of his favourite newspapers and make personal allegations against trade unionists,” he said.

“This is unwarranted. “We don’t believe that this is either professional or factual. I think that he needs to stick to issues and not attempt to mislead people.”

He said the issues raised by the Fiji Teachers Union were serious and needed to be addressed by Government.

“The teachers have a serious issue more particularly with the changes that have occurred and have been imposed by this Government without consultation with the unions in the education sector,” he claimed.

“There is absolute chaos in the education sector where teachers have been demoted and salaries have been reduced while for some have been increased.

“We have seen an increase in favouritism rather than teachers being promoted on merit.

“We see that the individual contract have been imposed again without any consultation with the unions and not only that this is totally contrary to the undertakings the Fijian Government has given to ILO and the international community that it would abide by the core labour conventions including workers right to collectively bargain.

“We see that (collective bargaining) in our laws, in the Employment Act and we see that in our Constitution under the Bill of Rights that workers have a right to collectively bargain, but what we see in practice that this Government has imposed individual contracts, which discourage workers from collectively bargaining.

“We don’t believe that this Government is acting in good faith, in fact it says something internationally but does quite the opposite when it gets back home.”

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