Solidarity Forever

When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.
CHORUS:
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.
Solidarity Forever (Pete Seeger)

Decent Work Options: Fiji Times

By  Atasa Moceituba

Friday, August 15, 2014

TUESDAY marked United Nations International Youth Day, and to celebrate the occasion the International Labour Organization launched a new report titled Decent Work and Social Justice in Pacific Island Developing States.

UN resident co-ordinator and UNDP representative Osnat Lubrani said the report provided a fresh snapshot of where things stand with respect to decent work in small island developing states (SIDS).

“High rates of unemployment, including youth unemployment and extensive under-employment, large informal sectors and heavy reliance on subsistence agriculture, and small private formal sector that often provides low quality jobs,” he said.

The ILO’s Pacific director David Lamotte said the report was prepared as a resource in the buildup to the third UN SIDS conference scheduled September 1-4 in Samoa.

“The report provides a synopsis of decent work practices for SIDS, which remains a priority development goal,” Mr Lamotte said.

“Good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights are a critical foundation for development and growth.

“A stable, fair and transparent system of governance permeates to all facets of decent work ensuring a conducive environment for sustainable enterprises that support economic growth.”

Mr Lamotte said they hoped to enforce the fundamental rights of workers; improving their income and productivity, facilitating collective bargaining and social dialogue and protecting the most vulnerable workers.

Fundraising Dinner for FTUC

FTUC is organising a fundraising dinner this Saturday, August 16 at the FTU Hall in Suva.
Come join us as for a fun filled night and great entertainment from our very own local version of Elvis Presley and other musicians.
Purchase your tickets at just $20 each from the FTUC office and be a part of the union experience this Saturday night.
Please contact us on 3315 377 for further details

Incorrect Reports Over FTUC Executives’ Salaries

FTUC PR by National President, Daniel Urai

Incorrect Reporting Over Executives Pay by Fiji Sun

The FTUC is appalled at the lack of professionalism and ethics practiced by the Fiji Sun with reference to the front page article of the Fiji Sun dated Tuesday 12th August, 2014.

Firstly we do not expect a senior journalist to print news without crosschecking facts with organizations or individuals concerned. No effort was made by the Fiji Sun to present a balanced reporting on this front page news item referring to salary for FTUC Executives. However this is not the first time this has happened. Senior journalist Nemani Delaibatiki’s lack of knowledge of how trade unions and its national centers operate in the country seems to be very limited.

We would like to clarify and reiterate that the democratically elected FTUC Executives including recent National Secretary, Mr Felix Anthony, has never been paid any salaries to date for their service to the members of the FTUC and the workers of this country. This has been a long term practice dating back to a few decades and these positions are totally honorary. The current Executives continue to work tirelessly, free-of charge fighting to secure workers’ rights, human rights and trade union rights in Fiji.

Secondly   we see this as repeated futile attempts to defame character of an individual by the Fiji Sun on petty issues and openly promoting government agenda by downgrading democratically elected trade unionists in this country.  The Fiji Sun again today (13/08) did not hesitate to do what it does best, by misreporting facts about per diems and incomes from other sources for the unionists with no other intent but to spread malice and untruths, creating misconception amongst the public. It is shocking to note how, day by day, the newspaper continues to stoop so low to showcase government agenda.

We call on the media especially the Fiji Sun to take a step out of its office and undertake due research and rightfully verify their reports, simply to adhere to media ethics and professional journalism. Our people can clearly judge for themselves the intent of such news reports.

We demand a published front page apology on this issue of misreporting or we will be left with no option but to file legal action against the journalist and the newspaper concerned.

(68-08-14) FTUC PR – Misinformation Over Executives’ Pay

Amnesty International Recommends Amendments to ENI Amongst More

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Amend current legislation, including the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree 2011 and relevant parts of the Constitution, so as to protect workers’ rights in line with international human rights law and standards as well as international labour standards, including the right to form and join a trade union, the right to collectively bargain, the right to strike and the right to seek improved working conditions without penalty or reprisal.
  • Take effective steps to ensure that attacks, intimidation and harassment of workers, union leaders, representatives and others who advocate for social and economic rights, are promptly, effectively and impartially investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards.

By Amnesty International (Fiji Play Fair Report)

Uphold Workers’ Rights: Amnesty Report

The following is adapted from the recently released Fiji Play Fair report by Amnesty International –

“Under international law, all workers have the human right to form and join trade unions, to bargain collectively and to strike. These rights are an essential foundation for the realization of other rights, and are enshrined in the UDHR and provided for in conventions adopted by the ILO, including core conventions 87 and 98 that Fiji has ratified.

Rajeshwar Singh is Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress and Fiji Public Service Association. He expressed a number of concerns about workers’ rights, including:

“The workers’ rights in Fiji have been severely restricted. The regime has enacted various decrees which have impacted badly on the rights of workers, including the Essential National Industries Decree.”

“The decree has decimated unions. There is no job security. There is no real provision to go on strike in this country.”

The Fiji Government has taken some steps to protect workers’ rights in principle. The right to form or join a trade union and the right to collectively bargain are protected in the Constitution. However, broad limitations render these guarantees almost meaningless.

The Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree 2011 (ENID) overrides constitutional rights and continues to limit collective bargaining rights, severely curtailing the right to strike, bans overtime payments and voids existing collective agreements for workers in key sectors of the economy, including sugar, aviation and tourism.

In addition to this, the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree 2013, the Electoral Decree 2014 and the Constitution collectively prevent trade union officials from being a member of, or holding office in a political party, engaging in political activity, expressing support for a political party or campaigning on an issue related to elections (such as worker’s rights). Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the failure to respect workers’ rights in Fiji, including through restrictions on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association for workers.

As a result of the restrictions on workers’ rights and harassment of trade union officials, the ILO has identified Fiji as one of five countries where workers’ rights violations are the most serious and urgent. In 2012, a high level mission of the ILO investigating workers’ rights in Fiji was directed to leave the country.

The protection of workers’ rights is critical in Fiji, where poverty is a major barrier to the enjoyment of rights. Workers, union leaders and civil society organizations must be able to advocate for improved working conditions and fair wages without fear of harassment or reprisals. Amnesty International urges all political parties and candidates to pledge that Fiji’s next government will take steps to protect workers’ rights and union leaders.

Amnesty International continues to receive reports of intimidation, harassment and arrests of trade union officials. For example:

Trade Union leaders Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai have been arrested and charged with criminal offences for advocating for workers’ rights, including on more serious charges of sedition.

Daniel Urai was arrested most recently in January 2014 in relation to a strike at the Sheraton Hotel in Nadi, which he claims he was not involved in. These charges were subsequently dropped.

Kenneth Zinck, Daniel Urai and Felix Anthony have all complained to the police about harassment, threats and physical abuse by the military since 2011. The police have failed to investigate these claims.

In 2013, military officers were sent to the Lautoka sugar mill in an apparent move to intimidate workers due to vote on industrial action.”

Amnesty Report

Party to Mobilise Resources

(Pic: Radio Australia)

Labour

PDP will provide support to employers who take on new employees and/or support existing employees study to improve their skills and qualifications.

a)                  Provide tax concessions to encourage the recruitment of new employees

Drawing on best practices, PDP will consider providing tax concessions which can be tailored to encourage employers to take on new employees. This would be in the form of tax credit, the percentage quantum to be determined for the first year of employment and may be at a reducing rate over subsequent years.

This approach will be used to foster new employment and employment of disadvantaged groups/individuals. As a strategy it is directly targeted to create employment.

b)                  Provide incentives and support for employee training

The PDP will review the incentives, already in place, for training undertaken in Fiji. In this regard, PDP will reinstate TPAF as the specialised agency for vocational training with internationally recognised qualification. This policy directly targets employment and therefore fits within PDP’s economic policy framework.

Work needs to be done on structuring the support to ensure that it adds value to Fiji’s economy.

(Adopted from the PDP Manifesto 2014)

FTUC Skeptical with the Timing of Intended Revision of NMW

(Workers’ representatives at an earlier meeting at the FTUC Headquarters in Suva)

The FTUC is skeptical of the latest announcement by the Labour Minister, Jone Usamate on the review of the National Minimum Wages.

Minimum-Wage-Rate-maybe-revised—Usamate

The FTUC has always reiterated that workers deserve better against the backdrop of all that the Regime has taken away from them. A higher National Minimum Wage for the respective industries has long been fought for by our representatives.

As mush the move is welcomed, the FTUC worries that it may be another campaign ploy by the Regime for the votes in September. The FTUC is concerned that the action will raise false hopes and a different tune sung post elections.

We demand the Regime stop using workers as part of their political campaign and genuinely come to the table in so far as workers’ wages and their livelihoods are concerned.

Meanwhile, the People’s Democratic Party ( founded by members of FTUC) has promised to fight for an appropriate National Minimum Wage.

The following is derived from their Manifesto:

Minimum Wage must be a Living Wage

PDP believes that to lift people out of poverty a living wage equating to the poverty line must be the ulti-mate goal. The PDP intends to achieve this within four years, while making special provision for small and medium size enterprises.