ILO Reaffirms ERP Amendment not Compliant

FTUC PRESS RELEASE NO. 83-01/16

ILO Reaffirms ERP Amendment not Compliant

The ILO Committee of Experts have completed its review of the Employment Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 and have concluded that much of the amendment is not in compliance with the Core Conventions, contrary to what Government had claimed all along. The FTUC had maintained that the Amendment Act did not address issues that were critical to the submission of a joint report to the Governing Body of ILO. The FTUC maintains that Government has not honored the Tripartite Agreement it signed in Geneva on 25th March 2015.

The Experts have addressed about 14 areas where the Amendment is deficient and a whole host of Sections and Sub- sections of the Amendment Act to be amended. The areas of concern listed by the Experts are:

  1. The Non compliance with the Tripartite Agreement
  2. Assault of Felix Anthony and cases against Daniel Urai remain pending
  3. Various provisions of the ERP Amendment Act including the inclusion of ENI Decree provisions within the Amendment Act and the expanded list of Essential Industries.
  4. Use of Bargaining Units to undermine Trade Unions
  5. Nomination of representatives in ERAB
  6. Remedy for de-registered Unions under ENI Decree
  7. Reinstatement of disputes terminated under ENI Decree
  8. Denial of Prisons Officers their right to form and join Unions.
  9. Excessive discretionary powers of the Registrar of Trade Unions
  10. Interference into Trade Union affairs and provisions for compulsory arbitration
  11. Right of Unions to formulate their own programs and activities. There are some 14 sub sections that need amendment in the Amendment Act.
  12. Public Sector being classified as Essential Service and restrictions applicable
  13. Electoral Decree S154 placing restrictions of Public Officers including Union Officials and employees.
  14. Similar provisions in the Fiji Constitution that breaches Freedom of Association.

All of the above matters were raised by FTUC with the Tripartite Partners. Government failed to act. This report is a sad indictment of Governments insincerity and bad faith. It reaffirms the FTUC position that much more needs to be done to ensure compliance. The report does not examine the serious issue of practice. Compliance with Core Conventions is not only that legislation is in order but also that workers are able to practice what the law provides. This is clearly not the case today. The Committee of Experts has reiterated its call to Government to work with the Tripartite Partners to review all these provisions and make amendments. The Report which was released on 11th January 2016 and made available to government by ILO was not distributed to the FCEF and FTUC as requested by ILO. The report puts matters in the right perspective and should assist the Tripartite Mission visiting Fiji next week in its work. The report of the Mission will be presented to the Governing Body of ILO in March for a decision on a Commission of Inquiry.

The FTUC calls upon Government to act honestly and honor the Agreement it had signed with the FCEF and FTUC.

FELIX ANTHONY

NATIONAL SECRETARY