Tripartism has been decimated by this Government while it continues to attempt to commit to Tripartism internationally. Hoodwinking the international and local community has become a normal standard of behavior of this Government. We have seen workers representatives removed from FNPF, NTPC, FNU, Wages Councils, and have witnessed diminishing roles of workers representatives in ERAB, NEC and National Occupational Health and Safety Board. Clearly Government has retained some Boards as Tripartite to show that a structure exists when in fact it is decimated. The FTUC will not be used to rubber stamp decisions taken by Government that are detrimental to workers and not consistent with the principles of Tripartism. Therefore, effective immediately, the National Executive Committee has decided that FTUC will not participate in any tripartite body until such time this Government decides to engage in a sincere and meaningful manner and abides by the Agreement signed by FTUC, FCEF and Government witnessed by ILO Director General on the Labour Law review and the Essential Industries.
The Government, Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF), the Fiji Trades Union Congress signed a Tripartite Agreement on 25th March 2015 which was witnessed by the Director General of ILO. This Agreement clearly stated that the Labour Law review would be conducted together with any other issues identified by the parties and would be presented to Parliament by the end of October 2015. This was not honoured by Government.
On 29th January 2016, a Joint Implementation Report was signed after the visit of the ILO Tripartite Mission to Fiji. The Government again agreed to review the labour legislation and the Essential Industries imposed to ensure compliance with ILO Core Conventions. It is now 3 years since the first agreement and more than 2 and half years since the second Agreement and we see that this Government has still not complied with its obligation.
The FTUC has also noted that Government has gone ahead without any consultation and imposed a minimum wage, amended the Wages Councils in breach of the ERA, imposed regulations, enacted Accident Compensation Commission Act, amended the Workman’s Compensation Act and continues to prefer consultants to usurp the role of the Employment Relations Advisory Board (ERAB). Yet we hear the Minister for Labour parrot Governments preference to dialogue and tripartite consultations. We wonder whether the Minister understands the principles of Tripartism as against his actions. Clearly his utterances do not reconcile with his actions.
Having considered the current state of play, the Executive Committee of FTUC has decided that no useful purpose would be served in continuing to participate in the boards that still have workers representatives. The FTUC will withdraw its representatives from all boards that exist until such time this Government demonstrates a sincere desire to honour the Agreements it has entered into with FTUC. Tripartism is not about a show but a real desire to work in partnership for the benefit of all and Fiji.