Need for More Vernacular Teachers: FTU

By FBC News

“The Fiji Teachers Union says more vernacular teachers are required to fully implement a new requirement to teach basic Hindi and i-taukei languages in primary schools.

FTU Chairman Agni Deo Singh says teacher training today includes learning of vernacular but if one has to go to schools, there’s still a shortage of Fiji Hindi and Itaukei language teachers.

“A lot of schools are mixed schools where in the same class you’ve g ot multiracial. you have Itaukei children, Indian, and they need to be taught a common language so most of the teaching and learning even at the lower classes is done in English and only when there’s a language class comes then they learn language but teachers are overburdened. They have to exchange classes and manage the teaching of Hindi and Itaukei.”

Singh says teaching and learning vernacular has always been on their agenda ever since conversational Hindi and Fijian languages were introduced.

However, he says this was only lip service as there were no resources and teachers provided.

The Union adds it is happy there is now more emphasis placed on this.

Khaiyum’s Contempt for Trade Unions

The statement following the link below is in response to recent media reports of the A-G’s blatant anti-union statements that was published on fbc news.
Personal attacks made against trade union leaders in the country by the A-G are shallow and lack substance. Pro – Regime media organisations have been quick to publish such unfounded remarks without our consultation and FTUC is disappointed by the lack of professionalism shown.
FTUC would like to reassure the Regime that it will not back down from their fight for the rights of workers in this country, especially at a time when violation of workers’ rights is at an all-time high.
(New Year’s Eve hotel workers demonstrate grievance with FTUC NP Dan Urai)
More details are contained in the Release following the link: (59-02.14) FTUC Press Release on Khaiyum’s Contempt for Unions

ITUC Condemns Australia’s Moves : Radio Australia

(Picture: ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow at the FTUC SDC 2013)

” Well there’s no question that if a government is not democratic, if we have a cycle of coups that we’ve seen in Fiji and other governments don’t determine that they don’t want to deal with that sort of abuse of rights, then who stands up for the people, who stands up for democracy? When the dollar comes before people and their fundamental right to liberty then we’ve got an issue about what it is that these governments stand for, and it certainly doesn’t share our value set, people come first, their rights, their freedoms, their right to actually have freedom of speech, the right to join a union, freedom of association for NGOs, and of course freedom of the press, fundamental to a democracy. This is not a democracy. If it turns out that the elections are free and fair I think everybody would celebrate. But I have to say I’m shocked to see my own government normalise relations with absolutely no conditions that show some degree of respect and support for the rights of people in Fiji.”

– ITUC’s Sharon Burrow Interview on Australia’s stand towards Fiji Regime.

Unions Want ILO Commission of Inquiry into Fiji: Owen Tudor

By Owen Tudor (TUC)

“The TUC has joined a global union call for an ILO Commission of Inquiry into Fiji because of its appalling record of worker rights abuses. It’s the first step towards taking Fiji’s military dictatorship to the International Criminal Court for breaching Fijian workers’ fundamental human rights.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has written to both Foreign Secretary William Hague and CBI Director-General John Cridland urging them to get their representatives on the ILO Governing Body to back the call at its meeting next month. The Government has already taken tough action against Fiji, backing the call to suspend it from the Commonwealth, and condemning attacks on trade unions. And the international employer organisation the CBI belongs to, the IOE, has also attacked the regime’s failings.

Since he seized power in a coup d’état in 2006, Commodore Bainimarama has systematically restricted or denied the right to freedom of association in law and practice. ILO supervisory mechanisms have detailed serious and systematic violations of the right to freedom of association as well as severe restrictions on labour rights in the public and private sectors. Fiji’s latest draft constitution, unveiled in September 2013, contains provisions which drastically restrict freedom of expression, publication and media as well as freedom of assembly and association, while imposing severe limitations on the political rights of its citizens.

The efforts by the ILO and social partners to engage in a constructive dialogue with the regime in order to find solutions to continual violations have failed. In September 2012, the regime even expelled an ILO mission sent to verify the numerous allegations made by Fijian workers. The regime has, so far, not allowed the mission to return.

Since the union complaint for a Commission of Inquiry was originally filed in June 2013, the Fijian Government has escalated its onslaught on the trade union movement. The 2013 observations of the Committee of Experts and the conclusions of the Committee on Application of Standards both amply demonstrate the extent of the violations and reflect a sense of exasperation with the regime.”

Stand Up and Oppose Decrees – Felix Anthony

“This Decree like other Decrees that curtail or deny human and trade union rights must be opposed by all decent people and not be promoted. These Decrees are in violation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights and ILO Core Conventions which Fiji is obligated to respect. Any government must be taken to task if they conduct themselves in such an irresponsible manner.

The FTUC makes no bones about the fact that it cannot support a political party or government that is hell bent on killing the Trade Union movement and deny workers their rights and dignity at work. A pay rise in exchange for rights is not acceptable. Workers rights and Trade Union rights are not for sale for a few pieces of silver. These rights and freedoms have been fought for over decades and many sacrifices have been made to protect these rights. We remain steadfast in our determination to continue this struggle.

The FTUC will continue its campaign for just labour laws that guarantee workers their rights including just wage and terms and conditions of work. We will continue to stand for the restoration of democracy and human rights. If these actions are considered to be political then so be it. These rights and freedoms are fought by trade unions the world over and we refuse to be cowed by unjust Decrees that attempt to restrict our fundamental freedoms. It was not too long ago when this Regime heaped praise on Nelson Mandela for his courage to fight for the freedom for his people yet at home this same Regime attempts to take our freedom away and threaten us all with jail terms if we continue to fight for our freedoms.” – Felix Anthony

(58-02.14) FTUC Press Release on Trade Unions and Politics

FTUC To Make Submissions to Contact Group: Repeka Nasiko

Repeka Nasiko (Fiji Times)
Monday, February 17, 2014

FIJI Trades Union Congress official Felix Anthony has revealed the union will be making written submissions to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Ministerial Contact Group that arrived in the country on Friday.

While speaking at a press conference in Nadi, Mr Anthony said the FTUC would make the submissions after not being able to attend a scheduled meeting with the high profile delegation.

“We were invited to meet with the delegation but the invitation came on Thursday which was a little too late for us and we are already committed this weekend, so we were regrettably unable to meet with them,” he said.

“However, we will be making submissions to the delegation in the coming weeks.”

Mr Anthony said discussions on improving relations between Fiji and Australia were positive.

“Improving relations is positive, however, they ought to be cautious,” said Mr Anthony.

“We are talking about returning democracy in this country.

“I believe Australia should be cautious in these talks.”

Meanwhile, the trade unionist has also revealed a keen interest in standing for this year’s September elections.

“We are keenly interested in standing for elections but a firm decision will only be released at an appropriate time.”

He said he would still stand up for the trade union movement if he had to leave his position as FTUC national secretary.

“I will have to give up my role as a trade unionist but that does not mean I will not keep fighting for workers’ rights.

“You can take us out of the union but you can’t take the union out of us, so we will always be interested in unions and workers’ rights.”

Know Your Rights: Repeka Nasiko

Repeka Nasiko (Fiji Times)
Monday, February 17, 2014

TRADE unionist Felix Anthony has encouraged young workers to know their rights.

While opening a workshop for youths organised by the Fiji Trades Union Congress in Nadi, Mr Anthony said raising awareness of workers rights was a vital role of trade unionists.

He said the FTUC would organise seminars to speak to workers’ about their rights as employees.

“This workshop is the first of a series of workshops that focuses on organising workers, young workers especially, on their rights, it focuses also on democracy and human rights.

“The purpose of this is basically about the rights of workers and raising awareness of these human rights.

“These human rights do not exist in a vacuum … they can only exist in a democracy.”

Mr Anthony claimed workers in Fiji today continue to face immense pressure.

“We believe this is a time of reflection for workers and for them to be able to see that their human rights are recognised.”

Mr Anthony said the workshop in Nadi was designed to raise awareness of this important issue.

“And also the fact that the trade union is under immense pressure, so we need to continue our education programs.

“To encourage workers to know their rights and to know that workers and trade unions have had their rights restricted.”

He said the role of a trade unionist was also vital in raising the plight of a worker.

“We cannot avoid but discuss these issues. We will not shut up and not discuss these issues.

If we do that then we might as well pack up and go home.”

FTUC Vows to Keep Fighting Despite Regime

“Workers rights and Trade Union rights are not for sale for a few pieces of silver. These rights and freedoms have been fought for over decades and many sacrifices have been made to protect these rights. We remain steadfast in our determination to continue this struggle.

The FTUC will continue its campaign for just labour laws that guarantee workers their rights including just wage and terms and conditions of work. We will continue to stand for the restoration of democracy and human rights. If these actions are considered to be political then so be it. These rights and freedoms are fought by trade unions the world over and we refuse to be cowed by unjust Decrees that attempt to restrict our fundamental freedoms”  – FTUC NS Felix Anthony

(58-02.14) FTUC Press Release on Trade Unions and Politics


Trade Unions and Politics

The involvement of Unionists in the political arena in the country has been recently reported in the media and the FTUC is disappointed by the biased publication of information by FBC and Fiji Sun.

The statement released by the FTUC National Secretary Felix Anthony sheds more light on this issue as we request all media organisations to shift their focus on researching the reasons behind the Regime’s interference in union matters.

Please click on the following link to retrieve the Release (58-02.14) FTUC Press Release on Trade Unions and Politics

Good News- Charges Dropped : Andrew Casey

By Andrew Casey

At last, some good news from Fiji

IT came out of nowhere. Unions in Fiji, and across the globe, were gearing up for a fight to defend Fiji’s  ‘Sheraton Six’  – hotel union activists threatened with jail for an ‘illegal strike’.

The regime had declared that Daniel Urai – the leader of the Fiji Hotel Union and President of the Fiji Trade Union Congress – and five others, had contravened the Essential National Industries decree.

Out of the blue the Fiji Director of Public Prosecutions,  Christopher Pryde,  this week announced he will withdraw all charges against the Sheraton Six – Daniel Urai, Peni Finau, Sikeli Gavidi, Isei Levula, Merewai Vocevoce and Akariva Nawai.

The Fiji police had failed to give the DPP any proof that the regime’s draconian Essential National Industries decree – allowing them to ban stoppages – had actually been broken.

A small step to restore workers’ rights

This is an important win. But it is just a small step in the campaign to restore workers’ rights, human rights and democracy to the small Pacific island state.

Unions across the globe are now campaigning for the International Labour Organisation to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the regime’s appalling abuses of trade union rights.

There is history here. In September 2012 an ILO fact-finding mission was kicked out of the country as they arrived at Fiji’s international airportThen a couple of months later an ACTU-led delegation was detained and then sent home on landing in Fiji.

The Fiji Trade Union Congress – acknowledging the importance of global union campaigns – wants unions from around the world to ‘continue their much-needed support for campaigns against the violation of our workers’.

In response the International Trade Union Confederation, and other global union federations are leading  a campaign for the ILO to return to Fiji and investigate the state of worker rights.

National union centres, such as New Zealand’s NZCTU, are calling on governments to write to the ILO also backing a Commission of Inquiry.

Unfortunately here in Australia our government has decided to stop funding the ILO the United Nations’ oldest institution. So my guess is the ACTU won’t get any help from our PM to get the ILO to investigage Fiji!

It all started hours before the 2013 New Year’s Eve celebrations. Four hundred-plus Fiji resort workers held a wildcat lightning stoppage to protest management’s decision to take away working conditions – without consultation.

Strike over almost before it began

The stoppage was short and sharp. Management agreed to come back within 14 days and respond to the workers’ claims.

Police from the capital, Suva, arrived at the Sheraton resort to declare the workers had taken part in an ‘illegal strike’. But they arrived after the stoppage was all over.

They looked silly. Opponents of the regime gleefully mocked the clumsiness of the dictator and his sidekicks.

The regime’s Labour Minister denied he ordered the police to arrest people – but strong rumours suggest the arrest orders came from higher up.

Red-faced, and seemingly in retaliation, the police wreaked havoc at the hotel union’s office. They took computers, phones and other office equipment  ‘ for evidence’.

The retaliation failed. The hotel union office was up and running again within days – thanks to global solidarity.

The global hotel union, the IUF, quickly provided their Fiji affiliate with funds to replace the equipment now held in a Fiji police cell.

Still the police kept hounding many of the 400-plus Starwood Sheraton Resort workers who were members of Daniel’s hotel union.

Massive email campaign

But morale amongst the Fiji hotel workers was strong.

A massive email campaign was triggered by LabourStart bombarding the regime with protests from everywhere; and the global hotel union the IUF separately got hotel workers to send e-mail protests to Starwood Sheraton  head office.

Meanwhile the Australian unions’ Fiji campaign site sent several emails, used its Facebook and Twitter platforms to tell its hundreds of supporters to join these protest campaigns.

The small Fijian economy, dependent on tourism – especially from Australia and New Zealand – could not stand the nearly 15,000 email protests delivered . . . and growing.

The FTUC has now thanked LabourStart, the IUF and the ITUC  for the latest support, because it let the regime know that the jailing of the Sheraton Six would have unleashed a torrent.

However the Fijian unions expect the struggle will continue until the dictatorship is finally forced out at promised elections in eight months’ time.

Many in Fiji are not sure that the promised election will actually happen but the FTUC expects local and international campaigns will prevail

“We however have not lost faith and the success of this recent campaign is testament to the solidarity between us,” FTUC Secretary, Felix Anthony, says.