The Fiji Trades Union Congress says the claim the appointment of a new Minister for Labour is a "reflection of commitment to labour" rings hollow considering the National Industries (Employment) Decree and the amended Public Order Decree and the State Proceedings Decree.
In a statement from the national secretary, Felix Anthony, FTUC says the draconian decrees continue to undermine workers fundamental rights to collective bargaining, freedom of association, freedom of speech, protest or demonstration, right to seek redress grievances and disputes.
Anthony also says the Ministry of Labour, which will now be headed by Jone Usumate, has become idle and ineffective.
"It has demonstrated no capacity to deal with workers issues, or Industrial relations or even enforce existing laws. It has curtailed the functions of the Wages Councils, the Employment Relations Advisory Board and the OHS Board.
"One of the more important roles of the Ministry is to promote good Industrial Relations practices which it has miserably failed to do.
"Reports of disputes can take as long as 6 months for the Ministry to respond to when the law clearly states that it has to act within 30 days. The Permanent Secretary is never available for consultations with the stakeholders."
"The new Minister has a real task on hand and he must be prepared to abandon his old baggage and assume pro-active and impartial role. He inherits a Ministry that has almost become non functional."
Anthony says the FTUC looks forward to seeing immediate improvements and only after that should the regime lay claim to real and genuine commitment to labour issues.
Editor's Note: FTUC president, Daniel Urai, appeared in the Suva Magistrates court this morning briefly on charges of urging political violence and inciting antagonism. State prosecutors have filed an affidavit with Urai's lawyer expected to file next week.