Workers rights must be respected, and restored

  • 16th October 2015
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It either complies with international standards on workers’ rights or faces the consequences: Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

It is now obvious that the unions and government have failed to reach agreement on a joint (consensus) report to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) this month regarding workers rights.

As a result Fiji faces the threat of a possible ILO inquiry and the Fiji First government must take full responsibility for this. It cannot cloud the issue by bringing in the repercussions on the economy of such an inquiry or blame the unions for it.

It either complies with international standards on workers’ rights or faces the consequences.

Fiji Labour Party supports the firm stand taken by trade unions in refusing to put their signature to a joint implementation report that fails to meet their demands.

It is highly unfortunate that the Employer’s Federation has signed the report despite the dissatisfaction expressed by workers’ representatives.

The FF government, and the employers, must learn to respect and uphold core ILO Conventions 87 and 98 which guarantee workers and their trade unions the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

We remind both the parties that the Constitution and the offending Decrees: the Political Parties Decree, the Electoral Decree, and certain provisions of the Employment Relations Promulgation Amendment Act 2015 (transferred from the former Essential National Industries Decree) have come under strong attack also from the United Nations Human Rights Council and form a crucial part of the 132 recommendations that the UNHRC wants Fiji to address.

These decrees and provisions undermine workers and trade union rights to freedom of association and assembly, their right to free collective bargaining and allow too much State interference in the affairs of trade unions.

FLP hopes the trade union movement will maintain its solidarity in opposing all legislation that undermine or restrict workers’ rights. This must take priority over personal interests.

Workers are important social partners and we expect the government and the employers to acknowledge this by upholding their rights as guaranteed under the various ILO Conventions.