Permit saga continues, anti-union stance by government evident – Anthony


Permit Saga

The Fiji Trades Union Congress had applied for a permit on 21st December, 2017, to march in Suva on the 24th February, 2018. Despite numerous calls, emails and reminders, a permit has not been issued todate. The FTUC has been told by the Suva City Council that the Application awaits the approval of the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry advises that the application is with Suva City Council. We have now been told that we ought to get the approval of the police and the District Officer before the Suva City Council can give its approval. The District Officer’s Office advises that we need the approval of the Council before it can deal with the application. This has been going on for the last 7 weeks now. It is becoming apparent that the authorities are reluctant to grant a permit or that they are scared of repercussions from their superior, the Minister for Everything.

Today, after an email stating our disgust at the inefficiency of the process, the CEO of the Council advises that Ratu Sukuna Park is booked for the whole day on 24th February. This is just one way to say the permit cannot be issued. The SCC was aware of our application but decided that Coca-Cola was more important an event than citizens exercising their constitutional rights and demand for Government to act. Our Constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and to protest is being denied. Corporate power is more important than the rights of citizens. This is the Government that claims to put Fiji first. It’s more like business first.

The march was planned to once again bring this Government’s attention to:

1. Our demand for a $4.00 minimum wage for all workers.

2. Our demand to rescind the individual contracts that have been imposed on civil servants, teachers and workers in Government owned entities including the banks and Fiji Airways. We call on Government to respect ILO Convention 98 on Collective Bargaining.

3. Our call on Government to respect the Tripartite Agreement with ILO to review labour laws to ensure full compliance with all Core ILO Conventions.

4. Our demand to the right to strike. Workers in Fiji today are being denied the right to even conduct secret ballot in accordance with the laws to go on strike.

5. The above includes the most recent abhorrent behavior of ATS Management in locking workers out and their refusal to recognize the Union. Negotiations remain pending on all grievances of workers at ATS.

These are fundamental issues that impacts ordinary workers and their families on a daily basis. We have experienced the anti-union stance of this Government and the insincerity of this Government to deal with issues that they have agreed to and are a party to a Tripartite Agreement between FTUC, FCEF, Government and ILO. All the talk about honesty and justice is hollow.

The FTUC will pursue this matter and will call on SCC and Government to explain why we are being told after 8 weeks that the Park is booked. Even if they both continue to refuse the Workers the use of the park, the march must take place. Let’s now see what other excuse there is.

Felix Anthony

National Secretary