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