Mr. Agni Singh replies to Fiji Sun

September 20, 2015

The Editor

Fiji Sun

Suva

Jytoi Prabhas’s article in the Fiji Sun  claiming  “Unions Overseas Rant exposed (FS 18/9) Fiji Sun 18.09 Singh gets slammed  is misleading as well as mischievous. Let me clarify that this was not the first time I expressed concern on the non restoration of Trade Union Rights.

I have said this at numerous forums locally including the Annual General Meeting of the Union in May 2015. The only difference is that the media did not care to publicize them. We had also sent to the media copies of resolutions on all matters of concern we had submitted to the Ministry. The bullying tactic of the Ministry was clearly demonstrated when it threatened to withdraw the check off system for the social security contribution of the members of the sister Union when a statement was made by the Union against the Education Ministers leadership style. The Union had to apologize to him publicly because it was held at ransom.

Reduction of the ENTRY POINT salary of teachers with Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees from $16000, $18000 and $23000 respectively to $12,360 in 2015 is a fact .This is in clear breach of the Job Evaluation Agreement signed by the parties in 1998. In response to the Ministers statement earlier in the year that “these teachers do not have any experience and have to be tested for a year” I had stated on FBC TV that the teachers have graduated after satisfactorily completing their courses including 6 months of practical attachment. The Minister’s rhetoric that MOE has provided employment to those without jobs is baseless. The fact is that MOE has exploited these teachers who were in search of jobs. Having two sets of salaries for the same job is exploitation and against labor laws.

I had further stated that several Ministers neither posses relevant qualification nor experience. Perhaps they need to be put on probation at a lower salary.

It is high time the Ministry engages with all the stakeholders it has distanced itself from, restores all structures of consultation and gives due recognition to the Unions as legitimate representatives of their members.

The Government needs to honor the MOU it signed in Geneva and totally restore the rights of workers in the country.

The faith of my members in my leadership is demonstrated by the steady increase in membership in the last decade despite the cessation of check off system. The membership of FTU is almost the same as the total number of votes Hon Reddy received in the last election.

Yes Jyoti, I am pragmatic and level headed. I have left no stone unturned to seek dialogue with the Ministry. Numerous letters remain unanswered. What else do you expect?

 

Agni Deo Singh

GENERAL SECRETARY

Fiji Teachers Union

Workers Demand Accountability: FTUC

FTUC PRESS RELEASE NO 80/09/15

 Workers Demand Accountability- Anthony

The Fiji Trades Union Congress is alarmed at the decision of the Chairman of Vodafone Fiji Ltd to award from Company funds sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) to the Prime Minister and his wife to attend the Rugby World Cup Tournament in London. The Chairman claimed that the Prime Minister had done so much for Rugby in the Country. We certainly don’t think so. It is time that the Chairman of Vodafone is reminded that Vodafone is owned by ATH which is about 60% owned by FNPF. That is the workers’ money. The remainder of the shares in ATH is majority owned by Government, which is taxpayer’s funds. It is not up to the Chairman of Vodafone, who is the Chairman of ATH and who is the “Executive Chairman of FNPF to hand out workers and taxpayers funds as charity. Good sense on part of the Prime Minister would dictate that he would not accept such favors and blatantly use public funds to enjoy rugby with his family in London. The Prime Minister must also be reminded that he is elected to serve and not be served.

This unfortunate incident brings to the fore the pressing issue of good governance principles in public enterprises and that are listed on the Stock Exchange. For too long Government and the Stock Exchange have turned a blind eye to the practice of Board Members acting as Executive Chairman of the same Company. Here we have the Chairman of Vodafone who is Chair for ATH and acting as Executive Chair of FNPF, even though he may not be called by that title. The question is where is the demarcation between Management of the Organisation and the Board of that Organisation. The Board of any such Organisation must oversee the operations of Management and set in place policy. In the FNPF case, there can be no oversight as the same person acts in both positions. This clearly is not observing good governance principles. The next question is, why is there no effort made in the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer of FNPF and what has the Reserve Bank got to say about the current situation. The Reserve Bank has oversight responsibilities on all financial institutions including FNPF.

Similar situation exist in Tropikwood Industries Limited where we have an Executive Chairman in Mr. Faiz Khan. In fact Faiz Khan is Executive Chair of the Pine Group of Companies and also Fiji Forest Industries Ltd. Faiz Khan is also Executive Chairman of Airports Fiji Limited which has embarked on a multi-million dollar expansion program at Nadi airport. Negotiation on the sale of the airport is also being considered. Similar situation exist in Fiji Sugar Corporation, where we have an Executive Chairman in Mr. Abdul Khan. Similar situation exist in Biosecurity Authority of Fiji Limited(BAF) where Mr. Xavier Khan is the Executive Chairman. These are examples of how Government owned enterprises must never operate. Good Governance principles demand demarcation or separation between the Board and Management, accountability and transparency.

It has now become common practice that Government owned enterprises spend lavishly when welcoming the Prime Minister or his Ministers on visits. The FTUC calls on Government and those in positions of authority to stop the abuse of public funds for personal survival. This is a form for bribery and corruption. We demand that all positions of Executive Chairman be disbanded immediately and proper appointments of Chief Executive Officers be made in all these organisations in the public interest.

 

Felix Anthony

National Secretary

FCEF and Government must honor Agreement to avert Commission of Inquiry

FTUC PRESS RELEASE NO 79/08/15
FCEF and Government must honor Agreement to avert Commission Of Inquiry

It is unfortunate that the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation have issued a statement stating that it would support the Government’s decision not to support a ILO Commission of Inquiry. In other words, they support the Government position.
The FCEF is a party to the Agreement signed in Geneva in March together with the Government to ensure that all labour laws comply with the ILO Core Conventions, re-instatement of check off, the ERP being the primary Labour Management Relations Legislation, review and negotiate all amendments agreed to by all three parties prior to the agreement, to submit a joint report and to urge the ILO Governing body to defer a decision on the Commission of Inquiry to November 2015. Despite this agreement, the FCEF is aware that it is Government that is refusing to get to the table and start the process. FCEF have unsuccessfully made many attempts to get Government to the table. The FTUC similarly made many attempts. Government has failed to respond.

We remind FCEF that there was a clear understanding that the parties would act in good faith and address all the issues that was covered by the Agreement in good time. We also remind FCEF that it agreed to defer a decision on the Commission of Inquiry until November 2015 after FCEF and Government gave a unconditional undertaking to act on the Agreement. Now that Government has not acted according to the agreement, FCEF must do the honorable thing and tell the Governing body that it has been unsuccessful and the only option left is a Commission of Inquiry as agreed. No doubt the image of the Country will suffer. The Government must take responsibility for its actions and inactions. It has been given more than sufficient time to act. Government has not given any reasons as to why it has decided not to honor the Agreement.
The Resolution of the June Governing Body is also very clear in this respect. The FTUC will strongly support a Commission of Inquiry and we are currently in the process of preparing our report to the Governing Body.

 

Felix Anthony
National Secretary

Australian Unions calls for Fiji Unions to be allowed into sugar mills.

Australian Council of Trade Unions( ACTU)  President

ACTU calls for Fiji unions to be allowed in sugar mills

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-24/actu-calls-for-fiji-unions-to-be-allowed-in-sugar/6721112

Updated 24 Aug 2015, 6:32pm

Australia’s Council of Trade Unions has called for unions to be able to operate freely in Fiji’s sugar mills, following two accidents recently.

One man was killed and another seriously burned in accidents at the Rarawai Mill in Ba, and local union leaders accused the Fiji Sugar Corporation of not taking safety concerns seriously enough.

ACTU President Ged Kearney says the industrial accidents at the mill show why unions exist, and why they should not be kept out of workplaces just because the government deems them essential industries.

Bruce Hill

Source: Pacific Beat | Duration: 4min 57sec