We need collective agreement, says workers’ union

THE Construction, Energy and Timber Workers Union of Fiji claims that the Fiji Electricity Authority has not acted in good faith during recent discussions on a collective agreement.

Union secretary John Paul claimed the FEA backed out of an agreement that had been negotiated over the past 18 months.

“We had reached agreement on about 50 per cent of the issues but the FEA refused to sign off on the agreed parts,” he said.

“We feel that they are balking at retirement benefits, wage increase and long service leave benefits — these are areas of interest for our members and they need to be finalised as soon as possible.” Mr Paul added that the union has been negotiating for an increase in wages because there have not been any increments since 2009.

“The matter has now been referred to the Labour Minister for compulsory conference to conclude settlement and we urge the minister to call this conference without delay because two years is a long wait for an agreement on issues which are very dear to the hearts of our 350 members in FEA.”

FEA chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel said the log of claims submitted by CETWUF were seriously considered by the FEA management and board.

“There were certain claims that we agreed upon and there were some that we did not agree with,” he said.

“The next step in the process was to go for mediation which took place at the Fiji Mediation Centre.

“At the end of the mediation, there were certain claims that were further agreed upon and there were some that still remained in disagreement.

“The next step in the process is for a compulsory conference with the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations. FEA will sign the Collective Agreement with CETWUF once all claims have been resolved either way and agreed upon by both parties. Good faith bargaining does not mean you agree with all claims submitted by CETWUF. In our opinion we have acted in good faith and the process has to take its due course.”

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