The FTUC encourages all union representatives for NUHCTIE to have faith and continue its stand against management of Sheraton Fiji Resort. Support shown locally and internationally has been tremendous and is acknowledged and appreciated by all those involved.
Let us continue to fight the good fight for ourselves and our families.
The following media reports are just a few we would like to highlight on our website.
By Radio Australia
International food union says Fiji union crackdown is political
The IUF, the international body representing workers in food, farming and hotel industries, has send office equipment to replace what was taken away when Fiji police arrested National Union of Hospitality Catering and Tourism Industries general secretary Daniel Urai and five other unionists involved in the Sheraton strike. They were arrested on the 9th of January and charged as a result of what the interim government says was an unlawful strike on New Year’s Eve at Sheraton Fiji Resort and Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa. The six are out on bail, but are not permitted to travel overseas and must report regularly to the police.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Massimo Frattini, the Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Coordinator at the IUF
By Radio New Zealand
People still to be questioned over illegal Fiji hotel strike
The police in Fiji say they still have more people to question regarding an illegal strike at Sheraton Hotels in Nadi on New Year’s eve.
About 300 hotel employees walked off the job, reportedly over pay issues, but an interim settlement was reached within hours despite the labour minister declaring the strike illegal.
The Fiji Sun reported that the management of the Sheraton hotels agreed to pay workers who were on strike.
Six people were arrested in relation to the strike this month, and a spokesperson for Nadi police says their case is now before the courts, although he would not say whether more arrests are possible.
A spokesperson for the Sheraton resorts in Fiji declined comment, saying the company will not be making any statement in relation to the matter.
Union gathering support for arrested Sheraton workers
Spotlight again on the hardline taken by the regime against workers in Fiji.
Workers at Denarau who held a meeting in a village in Nadi negotiated with Sheraton settled matters but the illegal attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, later gave the directive for workers to be arrested and charged.
Four twin cabs and about 15 policeman travelled all the way fromSuva led by Director CID t o investigate and charge workers.
Those that were interviewed and told Police that the Union advised the Union cannot strike without following procedures under the Employmeny Relations promulgation were not charged and released.
The Land Owning Committee among the workers called for a meeting but the Union was charged for illegal strike. Era sources and time spent by the CID would be better utilised searching for a murderer who burnt his wife and still missing.
See campaign summary from www.labourstart.org below
On New Year’s Eve, workers at the Sheraton Hotel in Fiji (owned by the global Starwood Group) went on strike against the removal of their staff benefits. Management agreed to negotiate on the workers’ grievances and the workers returned to work. This would be a normal industrial dispute, except that it is taking place in Fiji, where the military dictatorship that has run the country since a coup
in 2008 has persistently undermined and attacked workplace rights and trade union freedoms.
So, despite the fact that management and union were settling their differences together, and peacefully, the Fijian regime declared the strike illegal and arrested the leadership of the
union — including the head of the National Union of Hospitality, Catering & Tourism Industries Employees, Dan Urai, who is also President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress.
Bail conditions for the arrested leaders include not repeating the “offence” of calling a strike, so that if negotiations do not resolve the dispute and the union decides to hold another strike before the case is heard (which could be months, as it often is in Fiji), their leaders will be carted off to jail forthwith.
This behaviour by the Fijian regime is part of a pattern of harassment and violation of fundamental human and trade union rights which has led the International Labour Organisation to censor the regime– which responded by turfing a high-level ILO mission out of the country.
It’s time to tell the Fijian regime that enough is enough, and the attacks on workers’ rights and trade union freedoms have to stop.
Pope Francis with ILO Head Guy Ryder
(Picture: Vatican Radio)
By Vatican Radio (Amended by FTUC)
Workers Rights were at the forefront of talks between International Labour Organisation’s Director General, Guy Ryder and the Head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis. The two met at the Vatican recently when Mr Ryder was received in private audience by the Pope.
“We discussed many of the issues that I think the Church shares concerns about with the International Labour Organisation, said Mr Ryder. ”
We are very much concerned with promoting decent work in the world at the ILO and Poe Francis spoke about the dignity of work, the importance with which the Church and he personally attaches to the dignity of work and the challenges that that presents in today’s world.”
The two also discussed about the plight of the vulnerable with the Pope sharing his concerns about victims of human trafficking and migrant workers.
“And I think we shared very much a concern that the way that the global economy is working right now does not always work in favor of those who are weakest and this needs to be corrected.”
The Holy See agreed there be more work done in the area of domestic workers after the ILO recently adopted a Convention to protect the rights of the more than 50 million domestic workers recorded globally.
The Maritime Labour Convention of 2006 was also under discussion and Mr Ryder said the Church has also promised to cooperate with respect to seafarers welfare.
Pope Francis warned against the “globalisation of indifference” as we sit by and watch phenomena such as human trafficking, child and slave labor and perceive them as inevitable and normal.
“And that is a reaction we must absolutely refuse and react against,” Mr Ryder said. ILO maintains its stand and continuously works against all the negative issues discussed.
As we venture into the year 2014, with the first month’s ending, projects, plans, aims and goals to achieve, we are blessed with the hopes of making it a successful year.
The FTUC would like to sympathise however with the hundreds of women and men, employees of Telecom Fiji Limited who will be facing a tough year as they are yet to be handed their redundancy packages soon. This is all part of plans for re-structure by TFL effective from last week.
With more job losses on horizon, we demand that these workers be offered packages that would sustain the livelihoods of their families. Bills need to be taken care of, food to be provided and letting these workers off to fend for themselves has come at an absolute worst time in the country’s economy as job prospects are hard to come by.
Employees have long borne the brunt of restructuring plans made by management and company executives who have the backing of the current Regime in the country. Last year alone, 169 Fiji Hardwood Corporation employees were made redundant, sugar workers demanded wage adjustments amidst threats by the military and more workers have found their rights limited as they are now governed by the draconian Essential National Industries Decree. Hotel union representatives were also arrested recently for protesting against unfair management practices.
The sad plight of Fiji workers is real and threatens the well being of the very fabric of society- the family. FTUC is saddened at the Dark Ages for workers who have committed their time and energy to their workplaces and the government only to be left out in the cold.
A campaign has been launched by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) calling for an ILO Inquiry into Fiji’s continued violation of workers’ and trade union rights.
The FTUC has over the years spoken out against the Regime’s negative stance on workers’ rights and the ill treatment of union representatives that dared to take a stand against it.
Workers’ rights have been trampled upon through the Essential National Industries Decree and its Amendment, unionists have been tortured, arrested, threatened with theirs and their families’ lives.
The FTUC calls for advocates for human and workers’ rights to participate in this global campaign to establish an ILO Commission of Inquiry into the country. As far as the Fiji workers are concerned, there has been a lack of progress towards the acknowledgement and exercise of their rights in their own country.
The FTUC acknowledges your participation in the campaign through the following link:
Why being a unionist in Fiji will put you in jail
THE Fiji military regime uses a highly compromised judicial system to persecute and prosecute union leaders and members who dare to challenge their stranglehold on the island nation.
A workplace stoppage in the lead up to New Year’s Eve at the huge Sheraton Starwood Resorts in Fiji – which involved more than 400 staff – has been hammered by the regime. The Fiji Trades Union Congress has attacked the latest heavy-handed action of the regime headed by Commodore Frank Bainimarama since the 2006 coup.
Across the globe, hotel unions are protesting to both the Sheraton Starwood resort chain management and the Pacific Island’s military leadership.
The global hotel workers union, the IUF, has launched an urgent action email campaign targeting Starwood management. It is expected to be the first of several global campaigns aimed at either the Fiji military regime or the Starwood Sheraton chain.
Rights at risk, says ITUC
Fiji is already listed by the International Trade Union Confederation as among seven countries ‘at risk’ for trade unionists and trade union rights.
Regime leaders did not expect such an ‘uprising’ by a normally compliant workforce just before the 2013 New Year’s Eve celebrations – a key moment for Fiji’s economically important hospitality industry.
Hours after the stoppage had actually ended the regime’s Labour Minister declared the strike illegal.
Then the regime retaliated on 10 January.
Fijian union leader Daniel Urai.
They dragged a leading Fijian unionist, the President of the Fiji TUC and leader of the island nation’s hotel union, Daniel Urai, before a magistrate and – along with five others – charged them all for stirring up trouble in the workplace by leading an illegal strike.
Police are interviewing more Sheraton workers and are darkly threatening to bring more people before the courts over the ‘illegal’strike – but this is seen as a strategy to undermine the union organisation in the workplace.
The latest charges came just days before a scheduled hotel union report back meeting – which threatened further workplace disruption – by Sheraton workers angry that a range of their benefits had been cut by management without any consultation.
After the charges were laid the magistrates’ court conditionally released on bail Daniel Urai and the five other union activists. They are to report regularly to the local police station and they have been banned from leaving the country.
Charges like a Sword of Damocles for Urai
This is not the first time the 54-year-old Urai has been taken to court. He already faces treason and sedition charges – first laid against him more than two years ago – for allegedly urging political violence at a union meeting.
Over the last three years each time the treason charge is brought to court the Fiji prosecutors seek, and get from the magistrate, an adjournment.
It is like a Sword of Damocles hanging over the FTUC President’s head.
Police have also consistently targeted him by taking him to court for drink driving charges and other seemingly minor infractions.
A complaint judiciary has allowed the development of this popular strategy by regime lawyers.
They have used this strategy not just against Daniel Urai, but other union leaders and activists, to intimidate opponents of the regime by stringing out legal charges ad infinitum.
Seemingly the magistrates are so scared of the military regime they dare not challenge this obvious prosecution game but at the request of the lawyers agree to, again, adjourn the case for a later date.
Continuing intimidation of union voices is inevitable with an election due in September. In a deliberate ploy, the leader of the 2006 coup, Frank Bainimarama, has announced he will step down as head of Fiji’s military at the end of next month so he can stand in the election.
The credibility of the elections as free, democratic and transparent is increasingly being questioned and the regime is not eager to provide space to one of their few, independent, organised critics in Fiji.”
The article is available through the following link : http://workinglife.org.au/2014/01/22/fiji-begins-new-year-with-more-attacks-on-workers-rights/
The FTUC would like to remind Fiji Pines Limited that as a holder of the Forest Stewardship Certification it is a requirement of the FSC for a company to uphold and recognise workers’ rights which is one of the ten principles of this Accreditation. This is highly impossible due to the company’s recent inclusion under the Essential National Industries Decree. The export of pine chips also depends on the acquirement of the FSC.
FPL is one of the latest of corporations under all Pine Industry Companies that has been included under the Essential National Industries Decree in December 2013. Local Governments, Airports Fiji Limited, Hardwood Corporation and the National Fire Authority has also come under the Decree.
The denial of these rights through the imposition of the Decree may impact the ability of Tropik Wood to export its products and the FTUC warns FPL that it must take into account the details of the matter.
The ENI Decree is a blatant violation of fundamental workers’ rights and ILO Conventions. It was first gazetted on September, 2011 and represses rights such as Collective Bargaining for workers who fall into the industries under the Decree.
(Picture of FNPF Plaza:By fiji4me)
The Fiji National Provident Fund has squandered millions of workers’ hard earned salaries into a recent land deal with Amalgamated Telecom Holdings.
The FTUC is disappointed with the recent purchase of the $6.3million ATH Technology Park at Vatuwaqa that was deemed unsuitable for a tech park due its close proximity to the sea.
“This was why ATH had not proceeded with development on the land. The price of this land, part of which is swamp is excessive and we demand FNPF be transparent and disclose the purpose of purchase and a true valuation of land,” said FTUC National Secretariat, Felix Anthony.
The FTUC demands a swift explanation from the Workers’ Fund as we worry over the thousands of Fiji workers who have saved their future and the future of their families with the FNPF.
A global campaign to support Fiji Hotel Workers Union is underway. The FTUC encourages all supporters and advocates of workers’ rights and workers themselves to participate in the campaign to demand that management settles the disputes with the workers with justice.
The following link retrieves the campaign with the accompanying article by Owen Tudor that contains more details on the matter.
“By Owen Tudor
On New Year’s Eve, hundreds of workers at Fiji’s Sheraton Hotel (part of the Starwood global hotel chain) walked off the job because managers had unilaterally withdrawn many of their benefits. Management agreed immediately to negotiate with the union concerned, and the workers went back to their jobs in time for the big celebrations that night. So far so ordinary, right?
But Fiji is a military dictatorship, with the sort of industrial relations and union laws you would expect – harshly repressive. Despite the return to work and the ongoing negotiations, the Government pronounced the dispute illegal, and promptly arrested the union’s leadership, including its General Secretary Dan Urai, who is also President of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) which is the main thorn in the side of the dictatorship and last year set up a mass political party to take the military on when (or if) elections are ever held.
Dan’s no stranger to Fiji’s prison cells, but he and his colleagues were swiftly bailed on condition that there was no repeat of the strike action – a major interference in the industrial relations at the Sheraton. If management fail to come up with a satisfactory offer to settle the dispute in the time it takes the case to be tried (which could be months), the union is no longer in a position to strike, because its leaders will automatically go back to jail. The Fijian Government couldn’t offer clearer evidence that the right to strike has been comprehensively violated.
We understand that the hotel management had nothing to do with the Government’s actions against the National Union of Hospitality, Catering & Tourism Industries Employees. But given the restrictions on trade union action in Fiji, it’s now up to us to press management to settle the dispute with justice for the hotel workers. You can send global Starwood executives a message demanding that they bargain in good faith, settle the dispute fairly, and persuade the police to drop the charges against Dan Urai and his colleagues.
Meanwhile the global union movement continues to demand an ILO Commission of Enquiry into Fiji – the first step towards taking the regime to the International Criminal Court for breaches to fundamental human rights.”
(Picture: fbc news)
The New Year’s strike by more than 300 hotel workers was labelled as unlawful by the government.
The workers protested against the removal of staff benefits by hotel executives.
Amongst those taken into police custody was the FTUC National President, Daniel Urai.
The link below is an interview by FTUC National Secretary Felix Anthony on the issue.