Vanuatu: Ni-Vanuatu University Of The South Pacific Employees Boycott Work Over Grievances

Planning a strike if the head office in Fiji does not rectify alleged non-payment of severance

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 06, 2017) – Around 50 unhappy employees of the University of the South Pacific (USP) Emalus Campus boycotted work yesterday morning to participate in a sit-in to bargain for severance pay.

These workers comprised of the Intermediate and Junior (I&J) staff and Permanent Hourly Paid (PHP) staff. PHP are ground facilitating staff.

The President of the USP I&J and PHP Union, Louis, said the purpose of the sit-in was to challenge the USP head office in Fiji to pay the severance package for few of their retired colleagues.

“They retired last year and early this year after providing service for many years.

“The head office, through Vice Chancellor, Rajesh Chandra, is (allegedly) withholding their severance pay.

“With its head office in Fiji but operating in Vanuatu, USP should be complying with the our (Vanuatu’s) labour laws which states that all employees are entitled to severance pay and benefits when they leave employment.

“This is not the first time ni-Vanuatu USP workers have reacted to severance pay grievance. A similar dispute happened in 2010.

“The reason we chose today (Friday) to sit-in is because the Campus Manager, Ruben Bakeo, is leaving for Fiji this weekend.

“We want him to convey our message to the head office.

“Upon his return to the country after next week, we want assurance that our affected colleagues will receive their severance packages either by hand or through their bank accounts.

“Failure to do so will result in Plan B. We are planning a strike if the head office does not heed our complaint,” said the Union President.

The Emalus Campus Manager, Bakeo, has assured the employees he will be taking their grievance to Fiji.

“We have always been communicating grievances to authorities in Fiji,” he said.

“The concern of these workers is that the institution may not be meeting their severances. The institution have not made a decision, yet.

“We have discussed the issue and I hope they understand. I will be conveying their grievance to authorities in Fiji.

“I want to assure that we (USP) are not violating the laws of Vanuatu,” said Bakeo.

The sit-in yesterday caused disruption to service whereby the ground facility staff have waste hours of work instead of carrying out preparation works in the campus for the cyclone heading toward us (Vanuatu), the USP I&J and PHP Union President has stressed.

‘’USP teaches law. Do what you teach’, ‘Justice for Ni-Vanuatu USP workers’, ‘USP against Vanuatu law’ and ‘God hates injustice. Pay severance now’ are some of the messages displayed on the banners.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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