The FF government is inflicting serious harm on Fiji’s Education service by its continuous interference in the affairs of the Ministry – work that should rightly be handled by the Permanent Secretary and his staff, says Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
Mr Chaudhry was referring to the latest statement by AG Aiyaz Khaiyum that some education officials were “cannibalizing their core business” by moving high performing principals from schools to headquarters.
He saw this as “a lot of bureaucracy and clientalism” within the Education ministry – whatever that means.
“This is a classic case of Mr. Khaiyum once again crossing the line into the affairs of another ministry,” said Mr Chaudhry.
“There are now serious issues facing the Education sector as a result of too much interference by the government – first Mahendra Reddy as former Minister and now Aiyaz Khaiyum who is not responsible for the Ministry.
FLP sees nothing wrong in high performing principals being promoted or transferred to the administrative section of the Ministry if it means they can assist in formulating and implementing sound policies to enhance the level of education in our schools.
“Undue ministerial interference as evidenced by the use of coercion and unfair practices to enforce the new salary structure under the recent job evaluation exercise, has created widespread frustration among the teaching cadre.
“The sense of insecurity thus created would no doubt have a serious impact on their performance as teachers,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Government is insisting teachers sign a five-year contract to qualify for the new salaries. Secondly, they are demoting current post holders such as principles, vice principals and heads of departments and forcing them to re-apply for these posts with no guarantee that they will receive their vacated posts.
“This is not only unfair but also unethical and a serious breach of their existing employment contracts. Such coercive practices violate the intent of the agreement government signed with the Fiji Trades Union Congress in January 2016, following intervention by the ILO to establish a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of violations by Fiji of core ILO Conventions on freedom of association and the right of the workers to collective bargaining.
“The unions must take a strong stance against such malpractices in order to protect the rights and long term security of their members,” Mr Chaudhry said.
In response to Mr Khaiyum’s comment that the Education Ministry was “personality driven”, Mr Chaudhry said the FF government itself was very much personality driven.