FTUC Helps Out in Phillipines Typhoon Appeal

(Picture: www.ktvu.com)

The FTUC along with its affiliates and sister union movements around the world is now collecting donations towards relief support for more than 13 million people who have been affected after Typhoon Haiyan tore through their country recently.

The ILO initiated appeal has seen relief workers on the ground helping about 5 million affected workers.

Sister union movements are also on the move around the world to collect funds and relief support for the Philippines.

The FTUC is proud to be part of the humanitarian effort to raise funds for the destitute of the Philippines an is on target to raise a minimum of $1000 towards the appeal.

Ending Violence Against Women – Nov 25

Ending Violence Against Women is an ongoing struggle in Fiji and we call for the genuine support of all employers to restrain their employees from mistreating their female counterparts through strict employee conduct measures.

The FTUC would like to encourage all women to fight against all types of harassment be it sexual, physical or psychological.

We are wholeheartedly against any type of harassment against women and support the call from Public Services International for all sectors of our communities to work together to mobilise against discrimination and violence against women in our workplaces.

Statement from Public Services International

Violence against women is an age-old problem – it is time to end it now.

“If we act with courage, conviction and commitment, we can change violence against women from being the most pervasive violation of human rights to being a rare occurrence that is considered unacceptable and no longer tolerated.” Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, on International Women’s Day (8 March 2013).

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The United Nations reports that 70% of women in the world are faced with some form of violence in their life and all too often they are blamed or punished themselves. Gender-based inequalities continue to deny women a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence that affects women, whereas forced marriages of young women and girls, rape and spousal killings are still meted out on women every day with impunity. Discrimination and hate crimes linked to sexual orientation are also prevalent around the globe.

We have to note a worrying rise in terror campaigns against women trade union leaders, such as in Columbia and Guatemala. It is additionally shameful that the law on femicide in Guatemala is misused to target trade unionists. This means that a good law is not used to protect women, but to attack union activists and workers’ rights.

Violence at the workplace; be it sexual, physical or psychological happens everywhere – and must be stopped. “Public sector workers are well-placed to promote and enforce laws and rules that advance gender equality and protection against violence and harassment. Quality public services are often the only shield and support for women in this situation. Violence against women creates inequality, affecting the well-being of current and future generations. Violence and the threat of it deprive women of their basic human rights,” says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International.

Women’s rights are a central issue for the trade union movement, and connected to action on health, peace, human rights and sustainable development. In March 2013, the UN Commission on the Status of Women adopted agreed conclusions on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, reaffirming the Beijing Declaration and other international instruments. Governments have made many commitments in the past that have not led to concrete results. Far too often, cultural, religious or political views are used to block gender equality. Urgent action is needed to strengthen and accelerate implementation, which is now too slow and uneven.

”Ending violence against women is a matter of life and death. It is not acceptable that everyday women around the world are beaten, raped and killed. Brutality and inequality must end. States must provide adequate measures to prevent violence and protect threatened women, prosecution, counselling and education to change the mentality of people. Shelters for abused women should be provided, and it is unacceptable that under austerity policies those services are abolished in many countries. We need strong commitments from states to end violence against women,” says Pavanelli.

PSI and our affiliates can work together and with civil society organisations to break the silence and mobilise against discrimination and violence in our workplaces and societies. This can include measures in collective agreements, pressuring governments to enforce laws provide the necessary resources to assist victims, and train judicial authorities and the police to deal adequately with issues of violence against women and girls. We also support initiatives such as the White Ribbon Campaign that focuses on prevention of violence through the education of men and boys and their involvement in the fight for gender equality.

We call on all PSI affiliate members, men and women, to make a pledge to end violence against women and girls, at each of their workplaces around the globe.

Violence against women is an age-old problem – it is time to end it now.

Around the world – unions are implementing campaigns and organizing events.

Some planned events:

  • In Singapore, PSI affiliates are holding an event on 23 November and invited the Speaker of the Parliament as the guest speaker.
  • In Delhi, the Global Union Federations will hold a joint national event with all the GUF affiliated unions on 25 November to plan a campaign together with civil society highlighting the recent events in India.
  • In Sao Paolo, on 25 November PSI affiliates are organizing a March of women against violence and organizing a sub-regional planning event for the continued 2014 Campaign against violence.
  • In Algeria, SNAPAP is organising a public event on violence at the workplace on 25 November, training women unionists to actively educate victims of violence and help them regain confidence in themselves.
  • In Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon, PSI affiliates are working together with an NGO coalition for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign.
  • In Brussels, EPSU is teaming up with the campaigners of ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE.
  • In Geneva, PSI will join our Swiss affiliates and the Guatemala International Platform against Impunity for an event on violence against women on 4 December.
  • In Dakar, Senegal, PSI affiliates and the PSI Women’s Committee Chair are participating in the ITUC World Women’s Organising Assembly, where a session will be dedicated to the creation of an ILO Convention to stop gender-based violence at the workplace.
  • UNI Global Union is making men the focus of its campaign – Gender Violence is not only a women’s issue!

PSI statement 2013.pdf

Freedom of Association and Civil Liberties

ACTRAV Consultant – Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan

Democracy is the most fundamental base for the exercise of trade union rights as a free and independent trade union movement can only be maintained through the recognition of human rights in any country.

The following civil liberties are essential for the normal exercise of trade union rights:

  • The right to freedom and security of person and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention
  • Freedom of opinion and expression; in particular, freedom to seek, impart and receive any information through any media regardless of frontiers
  • Freedom of assembly
  • The right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal
  • The right to protection of property of trade union organizations.

The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (No. 87)

Art.2 Workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, to join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorization.

  • ‘without distinction whatsoever’
  • Only exception– armed forces and the police.

“armed forces” and the “police” must be strictly defined

  • ‘without previous authorisation’
  • .‘of their own choosing’

Rights guaranteed under the Convention

Art. 3

  1. Workers’ and employers’ organizations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organize their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes.
  2. The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.    

Four rights are guaranteed –

Art. 3 (contd)

  1. The right to draw up their constitutions and rules
  2. The right to elect their representatives in full freedom
  3. The right to organize their administration and activities


  • the right to hold trade union meetings
  • the right of trade union officers to have access to places of work and to communicate with the management
  • any activity involved in the defence of members’ rights
  • the right to strike.
  1. The right to formulate their programmes

The Right to Strike is one of the essential means available to workers and their unions for the promotion and the protection of their economic and social interests.

Art. 4. Workers’ and employers’ organizations shall not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority.  

  • Guarantee against arbitrary dissolution or suspension by administrative authority.

Art. 5. Workers’ and employers’ organizations shall have the right to establish and join federations and confederations any such organization, federation or confederation shall have the right to affiliate with international organizations of workers and employers.    

  • Guarantees workers’ organizations the right to form and join federations that in turn may form and join confederations.
  • Also guarantees these organizations the right to be affiliated to international organizations.

The Worth of International Conventions

INTERNATIONAL Conventions are results of stringent discussions fought for and against by members of the tripartite committees.

Participants of the Lawyers Training Programme at FTUC were delivered an in-depth presentation on International Labour Standards of the International Labour Organisation by ACTRAV Consultant Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan.

Conventions are international treaties that create binding obligations.

“Many countries adopt Conventions but also do not ratify them, now you know how difficult it is to create a Convention so you may be able to push for your own countries to ratify a Convention that has been adopted,” Christine Nathan, Regional Educational Specialist added.

Mrs Nathan detailed the process saying an issue becomes an international process after much regular discussions on the same issue at each meet.

“The matter then is agreed to be put up as an Agenda at the next meet thereby beginning the process of it evolving into an International Convention”.

Mrs Gopalakrishnan said the International Labour Committees handled complaints from Workers’ Rights groups in countries where Conventions were not ratified.

A total of 189 Conventions have been adopted by ILO and every country ratifying a Convention has an obligation to report back to the International Labour Committee of Experts.

Latest reports show Fiji has not ratified a total of 55 ILO Conventions. The FTUC has previously sent press releases and delivered statements against government’s inaction towards the non-ratification of Conventions 87 and 98, which affect a large number of government workers.

Under the Essential National Industries Decree, most government workers do not have the freedom to associate and the right to organize as enforced by the two aforementioned Conventions.

(Participants at the workshop)

1st Ever Regional Training for Lawyers Associated with Unions and Industrial Relations on ILO Standards


There is an immense need to teach Industrial Relations practitioners skills which address workers’ issues relevant to Fiji and the South Pacific through the mechanisms provided by the ILO.

This was the sentiment echoed as the first ever Regional Workshop for Trade Union Lawyers, Industrial Relations Practitioners and Advocates which began this morning at the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Conference Room in Suva. This training is also historical since this is the first time trade union advocates who represent workers in the Employment Relations Tribunal and Employment Relations Courts are being trained on how to apply International Labour Standards and ILO Conventions in domestic Courts.

More than 20 participants were welcomed at the programme by the FTUC Education Officer Ms Jotika Sharma. The opening was marked by the presence of the ILO Suva Office Deputy Director, Brother Satoshi Sasaki who urged workers representatives and lawyers to up-skill their knowledge on how to deal using International Labour Standards and Supervisory Mechanisms to promote social justice to workers.

“We should work together and learn something new,” he said.

The four-day workshop is organised as a collaborative effort between FTUC and the ILO ACTRAV Geneva Office with representatives from the ILO Bangkok office, Ms Christine Nathan, the Regional Workers Education specialist, ILO Regional office, for Asia and Pacific, Bangkok and Sister Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan, Advocate of the High Court of India and Chennai and a Trainer with ILO.

FTUC National Treasurer Brother Agni Deo Singh said the workshop could not have come at a better time. He acknowledged the ILO for recognising the needs of workers who have had their rights trampled upon by the Regime through the numerous anti union Decrees. Local lawyer, Brother Aman Ravindra-Singh who was one of the participants of a similar Asia Regional Training in Bangkok this year will also present on the practice of international standards in Fijian domestic courts.

Regional union representatives from Samoa and Vanuatu are also part of the programme. Ms Nathan confirming the impressive economic growth in the region but that the Asia-Pacific still had the lowest rate of ratifications of ILO Conventions in the world.

The aim of the programme was to equip IR advocates with an understanding of ILO International Labour Standards and the use of ILO – International Labour Standards in national courts. This is in acceptance of the fact that legal professionals practicing law needed to be aware of labour laws and the universally applicable ILO Standards and diverge towards effective representation of workers issues at National Court level. The FTUC recognises the very limited available expertise in this area and the huge costs associated with this.

The programme ends on Friday with the participants presenting their views on how they could effectively utilise the ILS in cases faced by their unions and workers in Fiji.

Trade Union Lawyers Training

The ILO ACTRAV-Geneva Office in collaboration with FTUC is organizing a Trade Union Training for Lawyers associated with Unions and Industrial Relations Advocates/Practitioners as follows:

Date : 12th – 15th November, 2013

Days : Tuesday to Friday (one week)

Time : 9:00am – 4:30pm

Venue : FTUC Conference Room, Suva

The objective of this training is to empower legal practitioners on the understanding of ILO International Labour Standards (ILS) and the use of ILO-ILS in National Courts. 2

The target group for this training is

Lawyers working for unions

Officials who take up cases for Unions

Identified student lawyers who are about to complete their course and will be involved in Unions in the future

Other officials involved with IR from a legal perspective

Union nominated legal practitioners or lawyers

Three international trainers will conduct this training programme.

FTUC Advocacy Skills Workshop for Trade Unionists and IR Practitioners 6-8 Nov

(Workshop participants)
ABOUT 20 Trade Union and IR Practitioners are participating in  a workshop in Skills Building and IR Advocacy yesterday at the FTUC Conference Room in Suva.
FTUC National Secretary, Bro. Felix Anthony opened the three-day event stressing the importance of building skills on IR advocacy for union leaders.
Skills building in advocacy is a must-have tool of every trade unionist and Mr Anthony encouraged the union representatives in attendance to practice the knowledge gained from the programme. Participants are being trained on how to prepare cases to submit to the Ministry, the Tribunal and the Labor Court
FTUC has organized such events regularly as part of its Workers Education programmes  and invites representatives of sectors involved in IR to present ideas, exchange and discuss opinions to further develop work within this Labour sector.
Guests that presented yesterday and early this morning included Ministry of Labour’s Mediator Tevita Kunatuba, Ministry of Labour’s Director of Labour Policy and Productivity, Ms. Vani Varea who spoke on Good Faith Bargaining and USP’S School of Law Lecturer, Aman Ravindra-Singh who presented on legal procedures of the Employment Relations Tribunal and Court.
The workshop concludes tomorrow with the FTUC preparing a similar workshop for Lawyers within the IR Sector. We are grateful to the ILO for providing valuable financial support to make this event a reality.

Fiji Case Reported to ILO over Trade Union Treatment

(The following is from the ILO website- Fiji case in Bold letters)

319th Governing Body

ILO Governing Body adopts report of the Committee on Freedom of Association

The Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) draws special attention to three serious and urgent country cases.
Press release | 31 October 2013
GENEVA – The Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) drew the special attention of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body to the serious and urgent cases of Cambodia, Fiji and the Philippines.The Committee’s procedures define serious and urgent cases as those involving human life or personal freedom, or new or changing conditions affecting the freedom of action of a trade union movement as a whole. The CFA is a Governing Body committee, composed of an independent chairperson and six representatives each of governments, employers and workers.

The case of Cambodia concerns the murders of three trade union leaders over the last decade and the continuing absence of concrete steps to institute independent investigations into these murders.

In this context, the Committee welcomed the definitive acquittal of two individuals who had been serving sentences for the murder of the trade union leader, Chea Vichea, despite serious irregularities in the judicial proceedings.

Nevertheless, the Committee stressed that it remained the responsibility of the State to promptly institute independent judicial inquiries in order to fully uncover the underlying facts and circumstances surrounding these murders and more recent acts of violence.

The Committee asked the Government to reopen the investigation into the murder of Chea Vichea and to ensure that thorough and independent investigations into the murders of Ros Sovannareth and Hy Vuthy are carried out expeditiously in order to bring an end to the prevailing situation of impunity regarding violence against trade union leaders.

In the case of Fiji, the Committee dealt with allegations of acts of assault, harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention of trade union leaders and members, ongoing interference in internal trade union affairs, undue restrictions on trade union meetings and the issuance of several decrees curtailing trade union rights.

The Committee noted with deep concern the new allegations concerning the Political Parties Decree which bans persons holding office in any workers’ or employers’ organization from membership of a political party or the expression of support for a political party, as well as the allegations of threats and intimidation by the military against trade union members and the arrest of trade unionists for demonstrating against the new Constitution. It urged the Government to provide its observations on this matter without delay.

Taking note of the October 2013 letter from the Prime Minister of Fiji in reply to the ILO Director-General, the Committee strongly regretted that the ILO direct contacts mission has not yet been allowed to return to the country and urged the Government to accept its return without further delay.

The case of the Philippines concerns a number of serious allegations made in 2009 relating to restrictions on freedom of association and anti-union policies in the Philippines economic zones, including assaults, threats, intimidation, harassment, blacklisting, criminalization and militarization at a number of enterprises in the zones going back many years.

The Committee observed that some of the specific cases had been resolved in the meantime and requested the Government of the Philippines to continue to keep it informed of the developments and their final resolution.

Finally, the Committee was pleased to note a number of cases in which its recommendations were followed. These include the conclusion of a collective bargaining agreement in Colombia (case no. 2955), the inclusion of discussions on email use as a subject of collective bargaining in Peru (case no. 2910) and the dropping of all criminal charges against the officers of the TMPCWA union in the Philippines (case no. 2652).

These developments were welcomed by the Chairperson of the Committee who encouraged other Governments to continue their efforts to find rapid and effective mechanisms for ensuring greater protection of trade union rights.

Campaign for the Right To Strike


Workers need Governments to stand up for workers’  rights at the ILO and resist the aggressive attack of employers, who are using the ILO as a Trojan horse to erode workers’ rights everywhere starting with an attack on decades of jurisprudence on the right to strike”
The ITUC 2013 global opinion poll, conducted by international polling firm TNS, revealed that more than 90% of people support rights with 99% support for the right to strike for better wages, conditions and health and safety
Despite the overwhelming public support, global employers have launched a crusade to undermine rights, starting at the International Labour Organisation. The ITUC general Secretary has written to affiliate leaders to request them to take direct action in regard to this matter. Link to the letter.”Please click on the following link to read more:  http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/html/newsletter_ilo.html