|ABOUT TO BE CRUSHED: Fiji's unions. FICTU's Attar Singh (right) and FTUC's Felix Anthony (below right).|
The military regime's insatiable appetite for crushing the rights of workers has reached new levels.
The regime is now finalizing a draft decree that will totally nullify trade unions and the role of trade unionists. The decree will be known as the CRITICAL INDUSTRIES EMPLOYMENT DECREE 2011.
Sources who have sighted the decree, say it is the brainchild of American David Pflieger (pictured right), the boss of Air Pacific. Our sources say the Schedule of the Decree lists the Sugar Industry and Airline Industry as Critical National Industries.
The Schedule also lists as Critical Corporations: Fiji Sugar Corporation, Airports Fiji Ltd, Air Terminal Services Ltd, Air Pacific Ltd, and Fiji Airlines Ltd trading as Pacific Sun. The Schedule is still a draft and sources say more state-owned industries and corporations will be added to widen the objective of quashing unions and trade unionists.
Sources say the Decree in its draft form gives absolute powers to the Regime and the Corporations, with the rights and terms of condition of employment of workers rendered meaningless.
Under the pretext of "continued viability and sustainability of critical national industries and "avoidance of interruption", the Decree:
1. Forcibly outlaws all trade unionists currently leading their unions, from holding positions in trade unions that are representing workers in these industries.
2. Requires all office-bearers of such trade unions to be employed by the Critical Corporations. This means the Regime is hell-bent on seeing in-house unions with 'yes' men as unionists.
3. Doesn't recognise all Collective Agreements currently in place that govern rights of workers and protect them against injustice from these State corporations
4. Regime will impose a new Collective Agreement without any negotiation that will last for two years
5. Only after two years can the Union (which will initially be registered as a Bargaining Unit) hold elections for office bearers to elect representatives who are employed by the Corporation.
6. The Election of the in-house office bearers will be conducted and supervised by the Minister delegated responsibility to conduct such acts by the regime.
7. Stipulates that the initial two years, from the commencement of the Decree up to election of the in-house office bearers, should be used to negotiate a new collective agreement that will be binding for 5 years.
8. The provisions of the Critical Industries Employment Decree will prevail over the provisions of the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP) in the event of conflict between the provisions of the two Decrees.
Sources say the Decree has been sent to the Employers (Corporations) for final input or vetting. It has not been given to the Unions.
The promulgation and enforcement of the Decree will be yet another blatant violation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions that past Fiji Governments have ratified.
The imminent promulgation of the Decree is also further proof elections will not be held in September 2014 as promised by dictator Frank Bainimarama as the Decree is nothing but another oppressive tool being used by the regime for absolute control of every sector.