Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says government’s move to peg public sector pay increases to the requirement that employees sign a new contract is “straight out coercion”.
“They are using strong arm tactics to impose shorter term contracts on civil servants in return for pay increases.
“This is not only unethical but also unlawful. Employers are bound by the employment contracts of their employees. They cannot just arbitrarily terminate existing contracts or force a change to newer contracts to the disadvantage of the employees,” said Mr Chaudhry, a former general secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association.
Employment contracts fall under the purview of the Employment Relations Act and proper procedures must be followed under the collective bargaining provisions of the Act for any changes to be made to these contracts.
“In any case, the announced pay increase for the civil service, effective from 1st August 2017, is a job evaluation award and should bear no relevance to an employee’s tenure of employment,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry said the public service unions must strongly resist this autocratic move and advice their members not to sign up. Quite apart from the pay issue, it has long term implications for security of employment and the right of the employee to be treated fairly and in accordance with the law.
“They are playing with the lives of people. Who is to say where such practices will lead to? Today it is the unions and the workers, tomorrow it can be used against businesses.”
“We must stand up against such imposition on our people. I hope the trade unions will not allow the government to get away with it,” Mr Chaudhry said.