|IN THE FRAME: Rajeshwar Singh with Urai, Anthony and Australian unionists in July. He sys he was with them but didn't call on Aussie unions to take strike action.|
An email about the the General Secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, Rajeshwar Singh, suggests he is distancing himself or has sold fellow trade union leaders Daniel Urai and Felix Anthony out.
According to the email which has been leaked to Coupfourpointfive, Singh denies he had any part in calling on Australian Unions to take strike action against Fiji, particularly Air Pacific.
The email was written by disgraced former Fijian Holdings Ltd chair and lawyer Carl Ngamoki Cameron to the Permanent Secretary for Finance, Filimone Waqabaca, on November 4, the day police arrested Felix Anthony, and searched both the union headquarters as well as his home. Urai had been arrested earlier.
Ngamoki's email reads:
Dear Mr Waqabaca,
I write to inform you that I have had the opportunity to meet with Rajeshwar Singh at our recent ATS board meeting yesterday.
At the conclusion of our board meeting we asked Mr Singh to respond to allegations that he was involved with Daniel Urai and Flex Anthony in calling on Australian Unions to take strike action against Fiji, particularly Air Pacific.
Mr Singh denied any involvement in such activities, although, he did admit that he was with Mr Urai and Mr Anthony.
Mr Singh has agreed to step down as Chair of our Human Resource Sub Committee and allow me to Chair that committee. I am happy to work with Mr Singh, and he has been advised to seek clarification of this matter with you and your department, regarding the above allegation and his suspended directors fees.
Thank you for your time. I would be pleased to explain any matter further.
It's possible Singh is protecting himself from the vengeful regime but detractors who forwarded the email to Coupfourpointfive tend to think he has betrayed fellow unionists.
They also ask why Singh didn't act as a surety for Urai; with Attar Singh the general secretary of Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions and Fiji Teachers Union general-secretary Agni Deo Singh stepping to the role.
Readers will recall that Singh was with Urai and Anthony in Australia in July when the FTUC union leaders were seeking the support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Transport Workers Union over the Essential National (Employment) Industries.
Singh was also seen with Roko Ului Mara, Urai and Anthony at a Fiji Democracy meeting in Australia. On his return, he was accused by the regime of using work time to promote a personal agenda with chief censor Sharon Smith Johns claiming PSA members wanted him to step down.
Coupfourpointfive ran the following story at the time.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Singh and Anthony hit back at claims Fiji's PSA want them out
The trade unionists who've been trying to get Australian and New Zealand unions to intervene in Fiji are standing their ground.
The illegal regime yesterday released a statement claiming FPSA members wanted the General Secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, Rajeshwar Singh, to step down.
Singh has today told Fiji Village that if some FPSA members want him out then they should follow the procedures under the Association’s constitution to take that step.
MINFO spokesperson Sharon Smith Johns claims "some civil servants in Fiji’s largest trade union visited her and raised concern about Singh meeting with the Australian unions."
Smith Johns says FPSA members say Singh had no mandate to speak on behalf of them with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Transport Workers Union.
Fijivillage says Singh has denied any knowledge of any sanctions and has also agreed to driving a BMW X5 but says the purchase price is less than half the figure claimed and that members had approved the purchase of the car.
Singh's apparent $200,000 has also been revealed by the regime.
The FTUC has also released the following statement:
PRESS RELEASE – RESPONSE TO FCEF STATEMENT.
We, the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) are appalled by the statement issued by the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation (FCEF) calling on FTUC to refrain from protecting the very existence of Trade Unions in Fiji.
We remind FCEF of the recent agreement between the Government, the FCEF AND FTUC on the Decent Work Country Programme wherein the parties agreed to the promotion and respect of the ILO Core Labour Conventions. Recent decrees namely the Administration of Justice Decrees 2009 and subsequent Amendment Decree and Decree Number 21 of 2011 blatantly violate the Core Conventions and attempt to decimate the Trade Unions in the Public Sector and Government owned entities.
We cannot have two sets of laws, one for the Public Sector and another for the Private Sector. We expect that when agreements are entered into, they are fully respected.
The FCEF should remind Government of their obligations and ask that Government respect their side of the deal instead of lecturing FTUC. The impact of any action by Unions is a direct result of the breach and violations of workers’ fundamental rights which the FCEF recognizes. We urge the FCEF not to attempt to play politics now and put the blame where it rightfully belongs.
We, the FTUC, condemn the direct interference of the Government in the affairs of our affiliate, the Fiji Public Service Association (FPSA) through the media release by the Ministry of Information and the comments of the Attorney General. Government has no business in the internal affairs of any Union.
We remind the Government that Officials of the affiliates of FTUC are elected and therefore have full legitimacy unlike this Government. Unions have a mandate to speak on behalf of the workers they represent and are governed by rules and a Constitution. If any member is aggrieved by any decision of the Union, the Constitution of the Unions provide for process to address these concerns. It does not require Government to try and intervene in the internal affairs of the unions.
The FTUC clearly sees such intervention by Government as an attempt to weaken the solidarity of Unions and their members and to politically weaken Unions. This will not work. The FTUC urges Government to respect the rights of workers and their Freedom of Association. Such actions are also in breach of ILO Core Conventions which the Government has ratified and is obligated to respect and promote. It is our sincere hope that Fiji is not judged as a rouge state in the ILO.
The FTUC is also concerned at the comments attributed to the Attorney General which appear to be petty in nature where personal attacks are being made on various elected leaders of the Unions. We remind the Attorney General that these Unions and their Leaders are legitimate and legal and that the Attorney General has no standing in questioning the actions or decisions of these Unions for obvious reasons.
We ask, what consultations and mandate the Attorney General has to produce Decrees and impose them on the citizens. If the Attorney General wants accountability from Unions, he needs to start with himself. Can he tell the Nation what he is costing the taxpayers and why the taxpayers who did not choose him to lead, should pay.
Read the MINFO Statement on Singh