- February 19, 2021
The FTUC at its last National Council meeting on 5th of December 2020 reaffirmed its commitment to campaign on the nine key issues. The FTUC has long campaigned on these issues that are critical to workers’ rights. These include:
- The Right to Strike
- Denial of collective bargaining and imposition of individual contracts
- Continued delays in the labour law review,
- The national minimum wage and a need for a living wage guideline,
- Federated Airline Staff Association (FASA) disputes and mass terminations,
- Fiji Airways mass terminations,
- Water Authority of Fiji mass terminations,
- The unresolved and longstanding Vatukoula strike.
- Implementation of the ILO recommendations as agreed in the Joint Implementation Report and undertakings Government has given to ILO and the UN Human Rights Council.
The FTUC National Council Meeting of 5th December also noted that Fiji had agreed to all the recommendations of the ILO and the UN Human Rights Council but has failed to act on any. The UN commendation on Fiji’s acceptance of all recommendations was clearly premature and even unfortunate. The National Council Meeting decided that these issues are important and affect employment and workers’ rights in Fiji and mandated the National Executive Board of the FTUC to develop the next course of action to strengthen the campaign. It was noted that many employers have and are taking undue advantage of the COVID pandemic to restructure their businesses by attempting reduce wage and benefits to workers, negotiated and agreed upon over many years. Government as the largest employer is no exception. The absence of any real social safety nets for workers has been exposed by this pandemic. Reliance on FNPF is not the solution nor should it be an option. Corporate Social responsibility must no longer be recited as a poem but be put into action.
The FTUC National Executive Board met on 28th January and resolved that FTUC will conduct a national march on May 1st. 2021, to campaign in support of these pending issues. May 1st is marked as the International Day for Workers or May Day in the global labour calendar, commemorating the historical decades of struggles and gains made by workers through their blood and sweat. It is widely celebrated by the global labour movement and in some countries a public holiday is given to acknowledge and celebrate this Day.
As required, FTUC has lodged an application to conduct a March and rally in Suva. Six previous applications for a march and rally lodged over the past three years have been declined at the last minute by the Police Department citing no reason at all. The Right to the Freedom of Assembly as stipulated in the Fiji Constitution, Section 18 on Freedom of Assembly states that “Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, demonstrate, picket and to present petitions.” We see no reason why we should be cited as national security risks when our activities have always been peaceful and within the confines of the law.
We call upon the Government to respect our rights as enshrined in the Fiji Constitution to protest and rally, and freely express the plight of workers regarding the issues of our campaign. Workers have been treated inhumanely pre- COVID and with the pandemic affecting employment, some major companies, such as Fiji Airways and ATS have aggravated this situation by unilateral decisions, with no proper consultation with unions. This has led to thousands of jobs lost and hundreds of grievances filed with the Ministry of Employment.
The FTUC will continue to protest against the abuse of workers’ rights which are our human rights, and government actions against the principles of democracy. We call on the authorities to allow the exercise of our fundamental rights. The FTUC urges all workers and like-minded citizens to join our National Day of Protest on May 1st in Suva.