Fiji’s biggest trade unions come together

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

ABOUT 50,000 workers will join forces after the country’s two biggest trade union umbrella organisations — Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU) — announced yesterday their decision to unite.

FTUC general secretary Felix Anthony said executives of both organisations made the decision to unite because of the ongoing hurdles faced by trade unions in the country.

“We recognise the huge challenge that face workers in Fiji with an openly hostile government that only seeks to weaken trade unions,” Mr Anthony claimed.

“In fact, the current Government has attempted to kill the trade union movement altogether with the Essential National Industries (ENI) Act, Public Service Amendment Act, the Public Order Amendment Act and through other legislations.

“Today, a huge number of workers have no collective bargaining rights, which includes all civil servants. Government has unilaterally imposed new conditions of employment in the education sector, medical services and in other government-owned entities.”

Mr Anthony added that contrary to comments made by Government in the media, there was no job security for employees and workers right to strike had been curtailed and denied.

He said unions faced difficulty conducting secret ballots for industrial action and new rules on election of union office bearers.

“Government is attempting to control unions. Trade unionists are not allowed to participate in politics or even be a member of a political party, a clear denial of our fundamental human rights.

“Having considered all these, both FICTU and FTUC have decided to unite. All FICTU affiliates will rejoin the FTUC.

A national council meeting of FTUC will be held on Saturday October 27 where all affiliates of FICTU will be welcomed back into FTUC.”

In response to questions sent earlier this year on the issues raised by Mr Anthony, Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate said there was nothing that stopped collective bargaining by unions that represented workers in government ministries and statutory bodies.

Mr Usamate said those rights were enshrined under Chapter 2 of the Bill of Rights in the 2013 Constitution.

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