‘Bill could place workers’ position in peril’

Opposition members Pio Tikoduadua (left) and Biman Prasad a parliament session. Picture: RAMA/FILE

The National Federation Party claims an amendment to the Employment Relations Bill – which was passed in Parliament yesterday – could place the position of workers in peril.

During debate on the legislation, NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said he initially thought the Bill was about reducing the number of paternal leave and family care leave days.

“When I look at the amendment to section 24 of the ERP (Employment Relations Promulgation), it appears that amendment is going to take away the right of workers to redundancy of one week for each year of service,” he said.

“I am not sure if that amendment can be used by those employers where workers are not unionised.

“Unionised workers have collective bargaining, they have contracts – this is all negotiated – redundancy packages and all that.

“The employers can abuse this amendment if we are not careful.” .

In response, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the amendment would provide clarity to employers and employees.

“So by having this definition we are actually telling both the parties this is what will happen in respect of not being able to provide work under the contract that has been put in place and an act of God, which the employer actually has to prove,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Prof Prasad and former Reserve Bank governor Savenaca Narube needed to get their math right when making comment or analysis of the economy.

“As an economist he should understand that revenue has depleted by over a billion dollars,” the A-G said.

“Yet, if he looks at the 19-20 Covid Budget Response, expenditure has only decreased by $300 million.”

The A-G said Government continued to provide services despite having a lot of revenue streams inactive including VAT, Service Turnover Tax and the environment levy because of the tourism downturn and nightclubs being closed.

This article was published in The Fiji Times on Friday, May 29, 2020

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