Fiji Trade Union Congress Calls For Police, Prison Unions

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Officers allegedly fear sackings if they voice grievances

By Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, March 5, 2013) – The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) is calling on the Fijian Government to permit the Fiji Police Force and the Fiji Correction Services officers to form unions.

FTUC’s national secretary, Felix Anthony told FijiLive that he has long lobbied the Government to amend the law to allow this but their calls have been ignored.

Anthony says Police and Corrections staffs have been facing many work related issues including low wages and poor terms and conditions of employment which he says has deteriorated in recent years.

"We’re calling on the government to amend the laws that would allow them to form their own associations. And that would be able to represent them not only in collective bargaining but also to take up grievances and disputes through the normal industrial relations processes that we have in the country," Anthony said.

Moreover, Anthony said that Police and Corrections officers are afraid of taking their grievances to the Government for fear of losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, during the 2013 Budget announcement, the Fiji Police force received an additional FJ$8 million [US$4.5 million] from the 2012 budget, totaling up to FJ$92 million [US$51.5 million]. This includes an increase of FJ$6 million [US$3.4 million] to cover its operational costs.

In announcing the budget, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said police need to be properly equipped, trained, compensated and staffed for the important work they do to keep people safe.

Bainimarama said FJ$2.5 million [US$1.4 million] have been allocated to purchase equipment and FJ$800,000 [US$447,660] to upgrade police stations and quarters.

Fiji Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro earlier told FijiLive they appreciate the increase and they have already identified the critical areas where they need to improve on.

Government allocated FJ$21 million [US$11.8 million] for the Fiji Correctional Services including a FJ$3 million [US$1.7 million] increase in their operational budget.

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