The National Secretary FTUC Mr Felix Anthony has reiterated that all labour laws in the country MUST respect and adhere to the ILO Conventions. Mr Anthony is hopeful the Government of Fiji especially the law-makers will ensure that this is the intent of the ongoing reforms of labour laws in the country.
The Bill No 10 of 2015 tabled in Parliament on May 22nd is now referred to the Standing Committee on Human Rights, Law and Justice which will present its submissions to the Parliamentary session in July.
The FTUC hopes good sense will prevail for the betterment of all workers in Fiji where their rights to join unions and to collective bargaining will be restored and check-off systems resumed. The Core ILO Convention 87 and 98 safeguard workers rights to join unions and to engage in collective bargaining on employment relations issues. These rights were enshrined in the Employment Relations Promulgations 2007 which covered all workers and had been taken away through numerous decrees enacted in the past few years. The ERP , which had taken 10 plus years to be promulgated was a result of extensive tripartite and civil sector involvement, and resulted in a comprehensiveness and inclusive piece of legislation for protecting workers in Fiji.Fiji has ratified all 8 core ILO Conventions, with C87 ratified in 2002 and C98 in 1974.
The National Secretary further stated that FTUC’s concerns have remained focused on human rights in Fiji all these years and that it was obligation of government to ensure all workers were protected in the country. He further elaborated on the fact that poverty levels continued increasing, squatter settlements extending, and unemployment and underemployment numbers spiraling.
Mr Anthony will be presenting our progress report on the MOU to the ILC in the coming weeks. The FTUC remains steadfast that the ENI must be repealed. We attach for your perusal the Bill No 10 of 2015 on ERP Amendments.
Attachment : ERP Amendment Bill No 10 of 2015
Felix Anthony, National Secretary, FTUC , speaks on status of progress with Government on the recent MOU signed in Geneva.
Talks have concluded on first part of the draft Bill.
The first part restores the right to collective bargaining and freedom of Association to all workers in Fiji. It also makes the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 applicable to all workers. These include civil servants and workers who were previously covered under the Essential National Industries Decree. (ENI). Part 19 of the ERP is repealed to include provisions for essential services.
Areas of disagreement remain in some fundamental issues.
2. Right to strike
3. Bargaining Units.
These issues will be pursued further as they remain non compliant to the core ILO Conventions.
4. Reinstatement of Unions in industries that fell under ENI.
5. Reinstatement of collective agreements.
6. Address disputes and court actions that were discontinued by the ENI.
These Decrees will be repealed
1. ENI Decree
2. Employment Relations (Amendment) Decree
3. Public Service (amendment) Decree
This Bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday 22nd May 2015 as Bill No. 10 of 2015. This will be sent to the Parliamentary Sub-Committee and will be debated in Parliament in the July session.
Progress has been made. There are a number of other issues that need to be addressed which were reviewed by the Employment Relations Board earlier. This will be done commencing around the third week in June and we hope to have these amendments in Parliament in July.
This is work in progress so far. A lot more to be accomplished in the near future for workers of this country.
FTUC representatives deliberated on how they could effectively utilize ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining to improve working conditions of workers in Fiji.
ILO Bangkok Office Workers Specialist for Asia Pacific, Mr Arun Kumar enlightened the twenty five selected union executives, youth & women representatives and young lawyers on international best practices that could be applied to Fiji employment relations. He emphasized on the importance of financial literacy for leaders and how effective it had been in negotiations in the region. The participants were encouraged to persevere with the practice of basing negotiations in line with, and above, the ILO ratified conventions by Fiji and thinking ‘outside the box’ of reduction in labour costs as the only strategy to cut company costs. The workshop deliberated on strategies on how best to justify their log of claims. The delegates also reinforced the idea of negotiating on matters of interests and not ” matters of rights” as it was already stipulated in legislation.
At the end of the two day program, delegates presented their union based workplans which will be implemented in the short term and monitored on a monthly basis. A follow up training is being planned to monitor progress in late August this year. The FTUC is grateful to the ILO for the technical and financial support for this workshop.
Why do we mark International Workers Day:
May 1st was chosen to be International Workers’ Day in order to commemorate the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators.
In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers. Across the globe, labor activists sought to make May Day an official holiday to honor labor and many countries have done so.
May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. It has been an important official holiday in many countries.
May Day is a time to celebrate the historic values and achievements of trade unions. It is also a time to reaffirm our commitment to organize workers everywhere and support their fights for:
– Freedom of Association and collective bargaining;
– Minimum wages on which workers can live;
– Universal social protection; and
– Safe, healthy and sustainable jobs.
Unions are organising globally to transform the model of trade that allows exploitative supply chains that deny fundamental rights, impoverish workers and their communities and profit from unsafe workplaces.
Hence this year we wish to join in support with unions around the world to mark this event. We remember our colleagues in Nepal who are facing the most trying times in their history. We remember them in our prayers and dedicate May Day 2015 to their sacrifices and hope for quick recovery and normalcy.
We join our union colleagues worldwide who will be launching campaigns or undertaking solidarity actions to mark this Day.
* Watch this space for May Day message by National Secretary FTUC*