World’s Worst Violators of Workers’ Rights

By

Rajeshwar Singh

FTUC Acting National Secretary

Fiji is once again in news for all the wrong reasons after being ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for denial and abuse of workers’ rights. This is the latest in rankings compiled by the International Trade Union Confederation and included on its website. The index is a compilation of reports analysed from a country’s varying degree of collective labour rights enjoyed by our workers and is reported globally. Fiji is the only Pacific island country rated alongside India, China and even Egypt.

Fiji is rated No. 5 which according to the ITUC Index means “No guarantee of rights. Countries with a rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world for workers to work in…workers have effectively no rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes….

This is shameful and more reason for the FTUC’s continuous laborious calls to the government to shape up and stop the violation of workers’ rights.

Legislations such as the Essential National Industries that limits the rights of workers in the mining, aviation, pine and other industries shows how low the government has stooped to restrain workers from fighting for their legitimate rights and expectations.

The FTUC would like to remind the government that every action made against the Fiji worker, no matter how ordinary is taken into account by our sisters and brothers in the union movement across the globe.

Our workers have suffered enough. The latest (amendment) regulation under ERP by Legal Notice No.11 dated 28th February 2014 is a serious indictment by the Regime for offering a pittance of $2.00 an hour as the National Minimum Wage. The restraining of rights through ENI, the shutting down of workers’ political voices through the Political Parties (Amendment) Decree 2014, the laying off of more workers in recent times, these and more are daily reminders of the despair faced by the poorest of the working poor.

The FTUC calls on the government to restore the rights of workers and provide a ray of hope for more than half of the population of Fiji struggling to put bread on the table.

Fiji’s rating is a disgraceful reflection of government’s lack of concern for the working poor who deserve to toil with dignity.

FTUC PR( 66-06-14) World’s Worst Violatiors of Workers’ Rights

ITUC Lobbies for Action on Fiji : RNZI

(Picture : wikimedia)

By RNZI

Transcript

The International Trades Union Congress is pressing for fair trade sugar in Fiji to be stripped of its label.

The ITUC which has just met in Brussels has placed Fiji among the world’s worst countries for workers on its Global Rights Index.

The Congress’ president Sharan Burrow told Sally Round the ITUC does not believe there will be free and fair elections in Fiji and it is appalled at the inaction of the Australian and New Zealand governments over the issue.

SHARAN BURROW: You have a situation here where the world knows that this government is a dictatorship, that it’s actually simply repressing people’s human rights but of course workers’ rights and the decrees that it’s initiated, the forcing of electoral rules that are in the interests of the government, there is no commitment to free and fair democratic elections and workers of course fear for their jobs when they choose to exercise demands for their own rights. So Fiji is not a country where workers can feel confident that they’ll be treated with respect, that they’ll be paid fair wages or indeed that their rights will be respected or that compliance mechanisms will work in the interests of justice.

SALLY ROUND: Yet the constitution does provide for protection for workers and there is quite a comprehensive Bill of Rights in this latest constitution that the government has produced, yet your index still rates Fiji very low.

SB: Well if you’re on the ground you know that this government has done everything possible to avoid having a free and fair democratic environment, whether it’s the elections, whether it’s the implementation of rights, whether it’s the fundamental capacity of workers to have freedom to even meet and talk about the issues that concern them. In order to register as a political party, to stand for elections, we’ve even seen worker representatives forced out of their union jobs. There’s no sense of independence, no sense of freedom. We will pursue a commission of inquiry at the ILO in to fundamental rights in Fiji.

SR: Why is Fiji the only Pacific island country on your index? Papua New Guinea for example has a huge labour force, why wasn’t PNG included?

SB: If the Pacific Island countries aren’t on the index it’s because we probably don’t have systematic data for them. While I don’t have the index in front of me there is still a huge difference between Fiji and the other island nations.

The rest of the interview can be retrieved through the following link:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2597470/world-union-body-takes-action-over-fiji

Fiji Among Worst for Workers’ Rights : RNZI

By RNZI

Fiji among worst for workers’ rights

A newly released global index on workers rights ranks Fiji among the world’s worst countries for workers.

The International Trades Union Congress Global Rights Index ranks 139 countries with a score of one to five plus on how they protect workers in law and in practice.

The worst rating – five plus – goes to eight countries where the rule of law has completely broken down, including Somalia, Libya and the Central African Republic.

Fiji is among 24 countries with the second worst rating alongside Bangladesh, China, Egypt and India.

The index describes countries with this rating as having legislation which may spell out certain rights but workers have effectively no access to them, leaving them exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

No other Pacific Island country features in the ranking but Australia scored three and New Zealand two.

The body says the results show almost every country can improve its treatment of workers with only Denmark receiving a perfect score of zero for respecting all 97 indicators of workers’ fundamental rights.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/245432/fiji-among-worst-for-workers%27-rights

Young Labour Advocate on Workers’ Issues

By Michael Young
FTUC Organiser

May Day was a significant event that we will never forget the struggle for workers rights.
Acknowledgement goes out to Young labour Volunteers Marvic, Adi Lei, Logi,Patric,Salote,Sera,Malcom,Dwein,Felix and Max who went out of their way to distribute pamphlets, book marks and blue ribbons to the Suva and Nasinu areas where the following pictures testifies to time and effort put in by these wonderful youths.
Young Labour together with FTUC Youth Wing and Fiji Trades Union Congress will continue to advocate the rights of the working class of Fiji for

Employment security
Better working conditions
Increase of wages and other benefits

Young Labour will continue to fight for workers rights.
In Solidarity

Electoral Decree Unfair on Unions

“The trade unions are aware of the Electoral Decree where trade union elections could be conducted by the Elections Office.  Now we gather from the news media that it would be made mandatory.It is well known that the govt has an agenda to annihilate the trade unions as the ENI and Political Parties Decrees show the extent that they would go to see the demise of the unions.

         Those who know how the industrial relations has developed in this country would clearly see that we are paddling back in time.  Under the Employment Act before the ERP 2007 the Ministry of Labour officials were required to supervise the trade union elections.  However, when the ERP 2007 was passed in Parliament in 2006 the supervision requirement by the Ministry of Labour was taken out as Parliament then recognized that   the Registrar of Trade Unions will oversee the operation of the Unions and that the unions are a democratic organization of workers that is accountable to its members and have appropriate rules that are not unreasonable, undemocratic or contrary to law.

(ii) in 2001 Fiji ratified the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work contained in the ILO Freedom of Association Convention no.87.  Furthermore, Convention 87 states that any interference by the government in the affairs of the unions will be in breach of Freedom of Association  and in breach of trade union rights.  The ratification of ILO Conventions by the successive government before 2006 were processes in terms of promotion of democratic principles and social justice at workplaces.  One other valid point to note is that government’s  electoral decree does not require it to supervise elections of Board of Directors of big companies.  Why the double standards ?

Quoting that a failed candidate who lost an election in the union complained of discrepancy is the reason for a mandatory conduct of election of trade unions under the Electoral decree is the flimsiest of excuses one could imagine.   A candidate who lost an election and complains to AG, is really a sour grape for him/her and if they go on to accuse that the processes were unfair to them and without investigating and checking the facts a mandatory clause is being pushed by government thereby breaching ILO Convention 87 which is the Freedom of Association boggles our mind.  The complainant should have reported the matter to the Registrar of Trade Unions as required under the ERP.  Why the complaint to AG and what could be the agenda?”

R Singh

 Acting FTUC National Secretary

Anthony Forced Out of Post for Elections Contest : Casey

(Picture : Supplied)

By Andrew Casey

Labourstart

“Fiji union leader forced out of his post to contest elections

THE long-standing leader of the main Fijian national union centre, Felix Anthony, has stood down from his union post to lead the People’s Democratic Party in the upcoming September elections.

Felix Anthony, who led the Fiji Trades Union Congress for 15 years, has warned he is skeptical about the fairness of the upcoming elections, which should end the reign of the coup imposed dictator Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Under duress Anthony quit all his union positions before announcing he would contest the upcoming elections. The military regime has banned union people from running in the Fijian elections.

Targeted by military thugs

 

The FTUC leader – who has previously been attacked by  military thugs for his union work – was also General-Secretary of the economically important Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union.

Due to the draconian election rules, specifically targeting unionists, other senior Fijian union leaders have delayed making announcements about leaving their union posts and contesting the elections.

The International Trade Union Confederation in its last annual report on violation of trade union rights listed Fiji as one of its top seven countries of risk. The ITUC World Congress being held later this month in Berlin will debate support for Fijian workers and their unions.

Already there is discussion about how best unions in our region, and across the globe, can help ensure free and fair elections in September, to end the anti-worker dictatorship.

In the best traditions of trade unionism, Felix Anthony’s election platform for the People’s Democratic Party will puts it primary focus on human rights. Not just re-establishing workers rights, but also rights for women and rights to education for all the people of Fiji and iTaukei rights.

Mr Anthony told the Fiji Times the decision to step down as a leader in the trade union movement was not easy.

The Fiji unions created the People’s Democratic Party after a public falling out, over the role of unions in the political process, with the leaders of the Fiji Labour Party .

Unions abandon Labour Party

 

Labour – which had once formed government in Fiji – had originally been set up by the unions but its leaders were seen as having abandoned their base.

“The decision to form the People’s Democratic Party was taken after lengthy discussion debate, consultations and a number of national council meetings of FTUC,” Felix Anthony told the Fiji Times.

“It did not happen overnight, it was a process that took months and it was after that on 12 January when we had the special delegates conference in Nadi that the FTUC finally decided to form a political party.”

Mr Anthony has strongly denied that the PDP is simply a Labour break-away.

Felix Anthony has previously accused the Labour leader, and former Fiji PM, Mahendra Chaudry, of turning his old party into a personal fiefdom which is not responsive to the needs of Fiji working people. Labour – once a multiracial party – has become a Fiji-Indian only party, according to the former Fiji union leader.

While the FTUC created the People’s Democratic Party, the second Fijian national trade union centre, the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions – a breakaway from the FTUC – is currently lined up behind another political party, the National Federation Party, for this election.”

http://workinglife.org.au/2014/05/07/fiji-union-leader-forced-out-of-his-post-to-contest-elections/

Lautoka Workshop 2/05

The FTUC wishes to thank all affiliates for their nominations of their members to the Organising, Human Rights and Democracy for Youths workshop held at Tanoa’s Waterfront Hotel in Lautoka on Friday, May 2.
More than 30 participants attended the programme. 
Workshop pictures which will also be available on our Facebook page.
We also appreciate the assistance of those Affiliates who also supported the programme in any other way.