In their outbursts this week against the Fiji Labour Party and its leadership , Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai accused the Party of “no longer representing the interests of the workers”.
Let us see how committed they themselves are about pursuing the rights and interests of the workers. Here are the facts as they relate to the FLP Delegates Conference 2012:
– On 19th April 2012 all FLP Branches, members of its National Council
and Management Board were advised in writing to forward their submissions on matters they wished to be discussed at the FLP Delegates Conference
– They were advised that this included any proposals for amendment of the Party rules and constitution
– The closing date for the receipt of proposals/motions was 31st May 2012.
• No proposals, motions or submissions were received from Felix Anthony or Daniel Urai on any issue, let alone the plight of the workers despite the fact that workers’ rights to freedom of association and assembly and to bargain collectively have been decimated by draconian decrees of the regime.
• There are other serious issues affecting their welfare and financial security, such as, the huge reductions in FNPF benefits, repeated deferments of implementation of wage increases awarded by the Wages Councils, total disregard by employers of provisions relating to working conditions and payment of allowances and overtime, social hardship caused by escalating costs of living…
• Removal of all trade union rights of workers in the public service, including at source deduction of union dues.
These are matters which must be articulated at any available forum by those who claim to be leaders of the workers.
If these two “champions” of workers’ rights were genuine about their commitment to their constituents, they should have demonstrated it at the Conference. There was hardly any mention of these important issues in their contribution to the Conference. ‘
But the Labour Party did not abandon the workers or the poor. A resolution on the FNPF pension cuts and the deferment of wage increases recommended by the Wages Council was proposed by the Suva Branch.
In addition, the Conference issued statements expressing concern at hefty hikes in electricity tariff and changes in the tariff lifeline which brought some 100,000 families into the higher tariff bracket; and the removal of several hundred families from the State’s social welfare benefits.
It is sheer hypocrisy for Felix and Daniel to accuse the FLP of not representing workers’ interests when the finger is clearly pointing at them.
Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai need to be told that merely attending overseas conferences every other month does not constitute representing workers’ rights. Genuine representation means being forever vigilant and vocal on issues affecting workers.