Fiji Union Still Prepared To Work With Government

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Removal of government negotiator ‘not important’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 6, 2016) – A Fiji union leader says he is still hopeful the deadlock with the government over workers rights can be resolved despite the removal of a key negotiator.

An International Labour Organisation mission to review obstacles to a required joint implementation plan is due in Fiji this month.

Fiji has continually failed to submit its plan because unions have refused to sign it, saying the government is infringing on workers' rights.

The ILO will meet and hold discussions with government, employers and union representatives.

However, the Employment and Industrial Relations Minister Semi Koroilavesau has been replaced by Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma to lead government negotiations.

The Fiji Times reports the opposition National Federation Party as claiming the move smacks of political interference and harms the talks as Mr Koroilavesau has diffused tensions recently.

But The Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions general secretary Attar Singh says he doesn't place much importance on the move.

"The issue for the country is whether or not Fiji complies with the ILO standard. Who chairs the board, whether it's the minister or whether it's the minister's permanent secretary or solicitor-general or the attorney-general, I really don't care. At the end of the day, the government has to comply with the ILO standards and who sits in the chair and does it, it doesn't really matter."

Attar Singh concedes having the Minister more involved in negotiations would have been more helpful.

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