Courtesy visit of the newly appointed Director for ILO Office for the Pacific Islands Countries

 

The newly appointed Director for ILO Office for the Pacific Island Countries, Mr Matin Karimli,  ( CV attached) ILO_Fiji_CV Director_2019 paid a visit to FTUC to meet with our head of organisation, the National Secretary FTUC, Mr Felix Anthony.

 

Discussions centered around how the ILO office could assist in building the capacities of its constituent to move forward regarding tripartism. The FTUC National Secretary debriefed  the Director  on  :

:         the challenges faced by workers  and unions  in Fiji

:       The difficulties in engaging as a tripartite where various attempts to resolve the outstanding issues remained futile .

:  delay in labor law reforms

:  the expectations from the Office  in assisting with the issues  particularly Convention 87 and Convention 098.

The FTUC welcomes the new Director to Fiji and hopes that  with his appointment there will be a beacon of hope for Fiji and its workers.

At this juncture,  we also thank the former Director Mr Donglin Li for his service to the tripartite.

 

 

 

NGOCHR concerned with arrests and risks during COVID-19

NGO Coalition on Human Rights – Citizens' Constitutional Forum

The NGO Coalition for Human Rights is deeply troubled by the recent arrests of members of the public at a time of uncertainty and with the threat of COVID-19 pandemic.

The arrests were made under the Public Order Act S15(a)-

 Any person who-
(a) maliciously fabricates or knowingly spreads abroad or publishes, whether by writing or by word of mouth or otherwise, any false news or false report tending to create or foster public alarm, public anxiety or disaffection or to result in the detriment of the public; or

“The NGOCHR acknowledges that spreading fake information is unacceptable in such worrisome circumstances. However, as measures have been put in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, processes must be protective of people’s human rights and safety,” said NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.

“There must also be clarification on the Public Order Act and what constitutes malicious fabrication whether it is on the basis of viral circulation or content. Many that may be well-meaning or seeking clarification on information related to COVID-19 could potentially foster “disaffection” and could be charged under this section for causing panic.”

The public is already in a state of anxiety and alarm, it is difficult to control how individuals will react in these extraordinary times. There is concern that the ambiguity around these arrests could hinder the flow of information, particularly for people living with disabilities or women and girls in rural communities.

“It is very worrying that at this time where there is a very contagious virus at our shores, people are being taken in for investigation and if the state of our remand centres are crowded, the health risks are high. Not just for those in custody but the rest of the population as well,” said Ms. Singh.

It is critical that at this time, human rights must be protected and maintained. Marginalised groups such as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) are particularly vulnerable in these situations as detention systems are not sensitive to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristic (SOGIESC).

The NGOCHR reiterates the need to ensure a human rights based approach in its response to COVID-19.

“In this time when tensions are high and the situation may be frustrating, it is our leaders that need to be reassuring the public. It is disappointing to see that there is victim-blaming happening against the patients of COVID-19, including within our parliament which is the highest level of leadership in our nation,” said Ms Singh.

“We must redirect our focus to preventative measures in addressing the pandemic and not cause more strain to our limited resources. This is a time where we need to come together as a nation and work towards preventing the spread of the pandemic and not causing more distress to the people.”

End

Lynda’s arrest unwarranted – Anthony

The FTUC is appalled and condemns Government`s actions in arresting Hon. Lynda Tubuya, Doctor Isireli Biumaitotoya, and Father Fabiano Dakai under the guise of being in breach of the Public Order Act. While the FTUC fully supports the lockdown of Lautoka to ensure that there is no further spread of the COVID-19 Virus, we however condemn the heavy-handed actions of the police. It is very apparent that Government does not want any criticism of its handling of the virus situation and in doing so is attempting to curtail the freedom of speech of people and instilling fear in people.  At a time, when  COVID is  spreading like fire,  the police is jeopardizing  the health and safety of those arrested and that of their families and communities that they come from.

The decision of the police to hold these citizens in custody is an abuse of the law where they are allowed to hold detainees for up to 48 hours. In most cases they ensure that detainees are held for 48 hours as a punishment they are empowered to dish out. There is no reason why police cannot interview
people and release them without undue delay. Often interviews are taken for an hour and suspended until the next day just so that police can claim that interviews are incomplete and keep people in prison cells so as to use up the 48 hours. This is plain abuse of powers and gives no confidence to the public.
We call upon the Fiji Human Rights Commission to be proactive and address this issue.

The claim that post on social media is to attempt to create public unrest or anxiety is plain false. People must be free to state their opinion as much as we may agree or disagree. There is no unrest and that is a fact. There is certainly anxiety but that stems from the Government handling of the current Virus, our hospitals and their ability to deal with a Virus outbreak and the actions of the police.

We call upon the Government and the Police to stop this harassment and release immediately those arrested. We can understand that there needs to be some control in the movement of people to ensure that the virus does not spread. This does not call for an arrest and imprisonment of people. A more
sensible approach is desirable. The FTUC has called upon its affiliates to take the necessary precautions.

FELIX ANTHONY
NATIONAL SECRETARY

” Workers grossly hoodwinked” – Anthony

FTUC National Secretary , Brother Felix. Anthony

The workers of Fiji have been hoodwinked” says Mr Felix Anthony, National Secretary, FTUC.   “Using FNPF funds for relief package from members accounts itself is no relief, in fact, an additional burden”, he stated.

Mr Anthony has further stated that ” It is important to understand the purpose of FNPF and that is to ‘ensure that workers have a secure and meaningful retirement from their hard-earned savings accumulated during their working life’. This is what the vision of FNPF states. The primary role of FNPF is to ensure a decent pension scheme for retirees. The current balances as it stands actually does not give 75% of workers an option for pension on retirement. Clearly FNPF is not serving its purpose. How is it possible to live a secure and decent life with $16 a week for majority of workers? Yet Government once again encourages workers to withdraw from their retirement funds abdicating its own responsibility to provide for workers in these very difficult times.”

The FTUC is disappointed that there is no immediate assistance to workers in the budget other than helping themselves to their retirement funds. While we welcome the incentives given to Employers and businesses, we are astounded by the fact that these businesses are on their knees in just one week. They have been doing well over the years and yet within a week let workers go on leave without pay. Some of these businesses are big employers who have simply forgotten their social responsibility to their workers and can afford to keep paying for the time being. We do not support these employers taking advantage of the situation. Employers who have the ability to pay and are taking undue advantage of the situation should not benefit from the incentives provided by this budget and deny those that are in real need.

Please click on this link to read the full press release of  Fiji Trades Union Congress  and  concerns raised by  FTUC National Secretary , Brother Felix. Anthony : PRESS RELEASE – COVID 19 SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET RESPONSE WORKERS GROSSLY HOODWINKED

Anthony: Decision by airline sends a wrong signal to all employers – Fiji Times News : 24th March, 2020

‘Worrisome’ move

FIJI Airways has posted “impressive profits” over the past few years and should be in a position to take care of its employees, says Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary, Felix Anthony.

In a statement issued yesterday, he said he was “very concerned” the airline sent staff members on leave without pay because of the impact to business caused by COVID-19.

“The move by Fiji Airways sends a very wrong signal to all employers to have a licence to send workers home without pay,” said Mr Anthony. “This is particularly worrisome when the A-G (Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum) makes this announcement

“This Government must provide stimulus packages that would ensure the workers who are affected, such as Fiji Airways, are taken care of. “Surely if the airline and the country were doing so well, as we were made to believe, the airline should have been in a position to take care of its staff. “This is so unfortunate and depressing for workers who faithfully made the airline successful. “Fiji Airways needs to be a more responsible employer and Government needs to ensure that all the claims about the airline doing so well was not all bluff. “The FTUC calls upon the Government to take responsibility for the state of affairs in Fiji Airways and ensure that workers can have a decent living, particularly during this global crisis.”

Meanwhile, questions sent to Fiji Airways remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

 

BY LUKE NACEI

Fiji Times

Tuesday

24th March, 2020

 

Transport Workers Union (TWU) General Secretary Raises Concern On Discriminative Decisions Made Within the Transport Sector

 

TWU General Secretary, Brother Kamlesh Kumar expresses his concern on the discriminative decisions that has been made recently within the transport sector.

TWU GS states it is disturbing to see that low paid transport workers have been sent home on leave without pay whereas workers in the higher pay brackets continue to work on a reduced pay.

Brother Kamlesh Kumar questions the management and the government, how will these out of work and low paid workers feed their family with no income?

TWU calls upon the government to work out on a stimulus package for these vulnerable workers and urges the employers to make sensitive decisions towards the plight of the workers as sending workers home on leave without pay is not the answer.

Please click on this link to read the full media release of  Transport Workers Union (TWU) and statements made by TWU GS, Brother Kamlesh Kumar:TWU – media release.

‘Leave Without Pay is not the answer” – Anthony

Leave Without Pay Is Not The Answer

 The FTUC is concerned on the announcement by Fiji Airways to send staff on leave without pay. This is contrary to the Prime Minister’s call to employers not to send workers on leave without pay or make workers redundant. The move by Fiji Airways sends a very wrong signal to all employers to have a licence to send workers home without pay. This is particularly worrisome when the AG makes this announcement.

This  Government must provide stimulus packages that would ensure the workers who are affected such as Fiji Airways are taken care of. Fiji Airways has not shown that it has carried out its responsibility seriously to protect people of Fiji and in particular, their staff. It now even goes further in seeking dispensation from the quarantine that the Government has imposed in Lautoka.

Fiji Airways is the first to punish workers who have worked strenuously to ensure the airline profits. The airline has posted impressive profits over the last few years and yet seems to be on its knees in just one week of this crisis affecting Fiji. Surely if the airline and the country was doing so well as we were made to believe, the airline should have been in a position to take care of its staff.

 This is so unfortunate and depressing for workers who faithfully made the airline successful. Fiji Airways needs to be a more responsible employer and Government needs to ensure that all the claims about the airline doing so well was not all bluff.

The FTUC calls upon the Government to take responsibility for the state of affairs in Fiji Airways and ensure that workers can have a decent living, particularly during this global crisis.

 

Felix Anthony

National Secretary

” Job losses to be the very last option” – Anthony

Representatives of the FTUC met with Ministry of Employment Productivity and Industrial Relations  this morning to deliberate on what measures could be initiated for workers and employers in Fiji during this COVID 19 crisis. The tripartite meeting provided the Workers a platform to share  strategies on how best government could help cushion the effects of this Virus.

We call upon government to strategically devise ways in which jobs can be protected. The FTUC will support any sustainable methods to maintain wages and salaries and workers’ regular entitlements in the cases of restriction of movement, lockdowns or shutdowns. These measures should also include consideration for payment of utilities like water and electricity, loan repayments, rent, etc in order to curb any further social problems leading to a more vulnerable society during this COVID outbreak.   These measures are expected to be of a temporary nature. We will not accept job losses. ” 

In light of the COVID 19 outbreak in Fiji,  “ we also call upon government to consider shutting down our international borders to prevent any more carriers of this virus from abroad.  We remind the government that, foremost, it needs to ensure the protection of our international entry and exit points as well as national borders, as people’s health and safety is paramount, said Mr Anthony.

Mr Anthony further stated that the public sector unions  are of the view that ” any pay cuts for the public sector should be the last resort. If there is no option, then the reduction must be done on a sliding scale and the accrued amounts must be paid later. We expect that government stance will be reduction of civil servant’s salaries hence our position is that workers below the $30, 000 threshold must not be affected. To devise any strategy regarding  pay cuts in the public sector, then Public sector unions must be consulted.” 

We look forward to further discussions with the stakeholders to ensure workers’ safety and that of the general public. “

Read the full statement by the FTUC here:  FTUC Submission on COVID-19

Felix Anthony , National Secretary FTUC

CTUG Commonwealth Day statement and ITUC statement for International Women’s Day 2020

 

Brother Owen Tudor, the Deputy General Secretary of ITUC International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Sharing message on behalf of  Brother Owen Tudor, the Deputy General Secretary  of ITUC International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to Commonwealth Trade Union Group(CTUG) members on  CTUG Commonwealth Day statement and International Women’s Day 2020.

Monday 9 March 2020 is Commonwealth Day, and the day before is International Women’s Day, so the Commonwealth Trade Union Group (CTUG) statement for Commonwealth Day focuses on the urgent need for action for women’s equality, and in particular calls on Commonwealth governments to:

  • guarantee the fundamental human rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining for all women workers;
  • ensure that all workers, including in the informal economy, are guaranteed a labour protection floor and access to social protection;
  • ensure equal participation of women in the labour market (including raising participation rates in secondary education and increased investment in the public sector care economy);
  • join the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) and discussing measures to implement equal pay with social partners;
  • eliminate gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work through ratifying and implementing ILO Convention 190 adopted last June; and
  • promote women in leadership through a feminist approach to leadership.

 This echoes the ITUC statement for International Women’s Day, and reflects several of the issues we will be lobbying for in the run up to this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in June.

 Please click on the link: https://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/iwd2020_commonwealth_statement.pdf to view full  CTUG statement available on the ITUC website and the ITUC statement for International Women’s Day 2020 on https://www.ituc-csi.org/IWD2020.