The National Farmers Union (NFU) has once again been refused a permit by the interim government to hold its Annual General Meeting this year.
The NFU wrote to the Commissioner Western Joeli Cawaki on 26 March 2010, seeking approval for a permit to hold the Union’s annual AGM in Lautoka. This was followed up by a repeated request a month later following failure to get a reply.
Mr Cawaki responded on 7th May declining permission “in line with the Emergency Decree 2009”.
NFU General Secretary Mahendra Chaudhry has written back expressing surprise at the decision and rejecting the excuse given by the administration.
He pointed out that many other trade unions had been allowed to hold their annual meetings eg Fijian Teachers Association, the Fiji Teachers Union, Fiji Nursing Association, Fiji Trades Union Congress and the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union to name a few.
Furthermore, all Provincial Councils have been permitted to hold their annual meetings. One questions why the farmers are being denied their right of association and their right to collective bargaining.
Is the interim government scared of giving democratic rights to cane farmers?
Last year, a permit granted to NFU to hold its AGM was withdrawn at the very last minute on orders from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Cane farmers have been denied the right of representation, and a voice, in the sugar industry with the dismantling of three key industry institutions - the Sugar Cane Growers Council, the Fiji Sugar Commission and the Fiji Sugar Marketing.
In January this year, check off facilities to cane farmers’ unions were withdrawn no doubt in an attempt to strangle the unions.
Government decision to continue to deny a permit to the NFU to hold its annual meeting prevents the Union from complying with its constitution and rules to conduct its AGM each year.
NFU has advised the relevant international organisations of the violation of the rights of their members and is pursuing the matter further with the authorities here: Source-FLP Website