The Suva City Council has given notice to both its staff and un-established workers who have turned 60, to retire this Friday, May the 15th.
Workers who perform skilled work, like operating plant and machinery, come under the Council's unestablished workers category.
Coupfourpointfive has been told 15 un-established workers received a letter from the chief executive, Ratu Ilitomasi Verenakadavu. A similar number of staff also got the letter. The letter informs employees of imminent retirement on May the 15th.
Verenakadavu states he has been directed to implement Section XIV Sub-section 28 (iii) of the Master Agreement between the SCC and the National Union of Municipal Workers, that states un-established workers who are of over 60, shall be retired.
Verenakadavu writes that as a result, he is advising with regret that he has no other recourse but to retire all affected workers.
Our sources say the decision to retire those aged 60 and over is in contravention of a High Court of Fiji ruling November the 17th, 2006.
The decision was given by Judge Roger Coventry after the Fiji Human Rights Commission took up the case of Caroline Tilly Martin.
Judge Coventry had ruled the SCC had no powers to retire anybody above the age of 55 or for that matter at any age.
The judge ruled this contravened the 1997 Constitution and stated the Constitution super-ceded all Collective Agreements.
He ruled the Collective Agreements be re-negotiated in this regard( Fiji Human Rights Commission v Suva City Council  FJHC 44: HBC0073 2004 (17 November 2006).
The SCC had appealed the case before the Court of Appeal but the matter has not been heard by the Fiji Court of Appeal.
Sources therefore say the ruling of Judge Roger Coventry is still binding and the law governing retirement age. It also contravenes the Employment Relations Promulgations(ERP) brought by the interim government in April 2008.
It is believed the Municipal Workers Union and the Staff Association will first try and get the Council and its Administrator Vijendra Prakash to rescind the decision, failing which they are likely to explore the option of invoking the Disputes Machinery under the ERP.
Coupfourpointfive has been able to obtain a copy of the letter. To view see right of the blog, under Leaked Documents then SCC Letter