#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Regime supporter challenges illegal govt's claim it's at forefront of improving workers' lot

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Regime supporter challenges illegal govt's claim it's at forefront of improving workers' lot

 In an article titled, 2011 Was Not a Good Year for the Workers of Fiji on a pro-regime website, Father Barry says the regime introduced the controversial Essential National Industries without consulting the Employment Relations Board and mentions a strong lobby of employers who have the ear of Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum who he says are operating outside due process. He describes it as crony capitalism. He also says the 2012 Budget did not put money in worker's pockets as claimed by the regime.

By Kevin J. Barr
In an address in early August 2011 defending the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said: “The Bainimarama Government, as you can see from our track record, has been on the forefront of improving wages for those workers who have been on the margin of poverty.” (Fiji Times 8th August)

Mythical improvements
 However, this statement is far from the truth and needs to be addressed.
I wish to take a brief review of 2011 from the viewpoint of the workers of Fiji. It may have been a great year for employers and investors but not for the ordinary workers of the country.

 1. The Wage Regulation Orders set to come into effect on the 1st January 2009 were delayed until the 1st July that year due to objections of a small group of influential employers. Then the new Wage Regulation Orders which were due to come into effect on the 1st July 2010 were not only delayed until 1st May 2011 but were reduced by 5% without any consultation with the Wages Councils.

2. These Wage Regulation Orders had also previously been held up on the desk of the Permanent Secretary for four months and not handed to the Minister responsible without any explanation ever being given to the Wages Councils for the undue delay.

3. Even then there was a further delay because the Wage Regulation Orders were not gazetted in time to take effect on 1st May 2011 and had to be backdated. Yet, in fact, not all employers did backdate worker’s wages.

Peter Mazey
4. None of the 40 Wages Council meetings due to be held in 2011 were held due to the stubborn determination of the Permanent Secretary to have a formula based only on inflation and productivity. In fact the ILO Convention 135 for fixing wages (which Fiji has adopted) is based on much wider criteria, which includes (as fundamental) the current cost of living and the basic needs of workers and their families.
5. Anti-labour legislation in the form of the Essential National Industries Decree was introduced without any consultation with the Employment Relations Advisory Board.

Daniel Urai
6. A number of Union Leaders were publicly vilified by the Attorney General in the media. Some are also facing court cases.

7. It seemed clear that a strong lobby of employers (some of them quite affluent) have the ear of the Attorney General and perhaps the Prime Minister and are able to use their influence to delay (and reduce) the proposed Wage Regulation Orders. They operate outside of the due process in a manner consistent with “crony capitalism”.

8. This employer lobby had also earlier organised a campaign to have the Chair of the Wages Councils and the Chief Arbitrator removed. However this did not succeed.

9. The 2012 Budget announced last year was obviously very pro-business and provided a reduction in corporate tax and the taxes of high income earners. However 71% of ordinary workers who earned below the tax threshold of $15,600 received no advantage. The rich benefited but not the poor despite various news items announcing that every worker in Fiji now had more money in their pockets.

10.  At the recent meeting of the Nadi Chamber of Commerce an employer’s representative (Peter Mazey) publicly acknowledged on TV that employers had got almost everything they asked for in the 2012 Budget. (The positive side of this, of course, is that employers should now be better able to increase and not oppose wages for their workers in 2012.)

11. Throughout 2011 and into 2012 we continue to receive complaints of exploitation from various groups of workers that:
    *The approved Wage Regulation Orders are not being paid;
    *That overtime payments are not being made;
    That FNPF deductions are not being made or, if deducted, are not paid into the Fund;
    *Wage slips are not provided;
    *That workers who complain are afraid they will be sacked.

12. The cost of living has increased dramatically with 36% increases in the price of food following a 20% devaluation and a 2.5% increase in VAT. Fuel and gas costs have risen along with the bills for water and electricity. Rice, meat, tin fish and flour have gone up. Even sugar prices (or own product) have risen dramatically. The 60% of workers covered by the Wages all earn below the current poverty line of $185 and are really struggling to meet the basic needs of their families. 

13. About 30%-35% of Fiji’s population living below the poverty line but only 3%-4% of those in poverty receive social welfare benefits. 

14. Only now (21st March) are the ten Wages Councils beginning to meet again and hopefully be in a position to recommend new Wage Regulation Orders to come into effect by the 1st July 2012. Only when this actually happens (without any further delays and reductions) can we accept that the Bainimarama Government is concerned about “improving wages for those workers who have been on the margin of poverty”. But the “track record” so far has not been encouraging due to government (especially the AG himself) tolerating the interference of a strong lobby of employers who work outside of the official legal process set up for protecting workers by determining wage orders.

15. We hope and pray that it will now be the worker’s turn to obtain justice so that 2012 becomes a year when both employers and employees can look forward to a better future.



Anonymous said...

Can khaiyum suckers like Thakur Ranjit Singh, John Sami, Fransis Narayan, Robin Nair, Surendra Sharma Rajendra Prasad take a good read of this article from a fellow coup supporter and engage their brain for once. Bainimarama has fucked Fiji up big time.

Anonymous said...

and not forgetting John Chor Prasad please

Anonymous said...

Isn't this what we have been saying all along in this blog? We are fed up with the lies and crap that this illegal government have been dishing out to everyone in Fiji. They got no idea at all in running a government.

We all know why: they are accountable to nobody! The sad thing is that peoples life is at stake. The illegal regime can make, change, swapt, amend the rules as they go along. If this is not Dictartorship, i dont know what else! Too Late Father Barry, Thanks but no Thanks.

Roll on Black Tuesday, Lets make a stand against the illegal regime of Dictator Bainimarama!

Miaw said...

Fancis Narayan, Surendra Sharma & the 2 Johns ( Sami & Prasad) were on huge salaries and benefits.

Whoever was paying the piper was calling the tune!

Anonymous said...

As I've said before, there appears to be a lot Indians benefitting from the corruption that is worse now than before. And this is attributed to Aiyarsehole's influence and it's right under Voceke's nose.

Anonymous said...

So at last Kevin has woken and seen the light.

Anonymous said...

Yes poverty has increased substantially with inflation. Problem is that with this regime 'there is no money honey'.

Singh Charles said...

Singh Charles said...
Father Kevin Barr is true champion of the poor even though he never makes such claims for himself (Mahen Chaudhry just uses poor to further his career and line his pockets). Fiji's poor has one true friend - Fr Barr. Fiji is lucky to have a tireless worker in Fr Barr, God bless him.

As for this regime, all talk very little action; there for themselves, not the people. Signs are they are bowing to big business. Will soon be in big business' pockets, if not already.

Khaiyum full of useless bluster and fancy talk. Boring listening to his vacuous, monotonous statements which are a cover for lack of results. No substance in him. It will be nice if keeps quiet and retreats to the background now he has made his money.

Him and Bainimarama have done very well thank you. Khaiyum's aunt has nice little contract, and who can forget Bainiarama's 30-year backpay, signed by none other than Chaudhry. Clean up campaign? Ha ha, what a joke. And Aiyaz has nerve to lecture rest of the country. nauseating. Take you lecturing to your boss Aiyaz. and swallow some of your own medicine too.

This regime is so full of themselves. Objecting to being called 'interim'. Did they not themselves say they were there for the interim? were they not supposed to be there for the interim? Why blame the media when you suddenly develop a taste and greed for power and want to stay on beyond the interim.

And, you were not elected, so you are not the government, you are the REGIME! what kind of lawyer are you Aiyaz? can't handle the truth and forcing a lie down the nation's throat. Fiji is becoming sick of you bunch.

I was no fan of Qarase Govt but at the very least we could question and criticise and demand answers. With this mob there is no accountability whatsoever. Goodness know what other deals are going on.

Lots of promises made to poor but very little dome for them. Regime is too busy looking after itself. The quicker these fat cats are removed the better for Fiji.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Kevin has woken up late, like most of them have, and must face the music as well in due course.

Foreign investor said...

Noted Kevins comments on rich investors. My foreign investors have lost $5 million because of the coup which HE supported. Fiji lost over 200 jobs that would have been created plus a further very large investment. Their investment plans now been on hold for 5 years.

Taukei. said...

Given his & others open support for this muderous regime over many years its hard to deny he's given the catholic church some pretty bad press.

Classic example of why religion & state should never become bedfellows...

Anonymous said...

Father, I'm glad that you've come to realise how misplaced your support was. You should be made to eat your own words.

Anonymous said...

Father Bah..bah black sheep, Not only 2011 was bad for the workers. Things had gone wrong for the workers since December, 2006 and will continue to worsen as long as these goons maintain grip of the country. Fiji is in doggy territory I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Father Bah..bah..black sheep, Not only 2011 was bad for workers. Things had not been right for them since December 2006 and it seems it will continue to worsen as long as these goons maintain their grip on the country. We're in the hands of the dogs I'm afraid.

mark manning said...

Poor old Father Barr, but it's good to know that we have another convert to the cause to return Fiji to Democracy.

Anonymous said...

Barr and Mataca [both of the Catholic Church] were very, very strong supporters of the Pig when the shit hit the ceiling in Dec 2006!
Mataca has now gone into hiding and now Barr has resurfaced in the form of trying to support the workers!! In the meantime, Bishop Qiliho has also gone into hiding and has never uttered a word since!!
Boy, Barr you must really, really think that we are so gullible!!
No wonder both the Catholic and Anglican Churches are not making any in roads. Their leaders were too preoccupied with trying to lead the country instead of sticking to their callings!!

Lanka Gal said...

Well put @ 4.56 Singh Charles.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Qiliho!! You still there??
Sitiveni Tukaituraga aka Qiliho you still there??
Sa va'cava?? Va ka mo drau sa galu mai!!
Yalovinaka Bisopi, vosa mada vua na gone o sa mai sussuga ka sa mai vakayagataka tiko 'qori na yacamu. Keimami sa madua na kai Nadro!!

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread! said...

@ 8.21p.m.

Our naive Archbishop Petero Mataca, so easily conned by military guile has thankfully been told to retire.

Fr.Barr is back on track, we wouldn't expect anything less.

Anonymous said...

Dont forget Sri Yukt Professor Satendra Pratap Nandan(none-done)--another coup apologist/supporter.Is he still here or gone back to Gillard country??--the tree destroyer--with his silly books full of kid stuff !!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Father Barr has never swayed from fighting for the poor and has always been the lone voice for nearly 30 years, don't criticise when you know bugger all. He supports the Govt that supports the poor and regardless of which, he has been consistent through out and is respected for that. It is the Govt. that is not consistent. Not only this one, but past ones. Chaudhry's has probably been the only one that has actively tried to do something for the poor but as we all know, was not given the light of day. Likewise, the late Dr Bavadra (RIP). As for those who criticise the Archbishop Mataca and Bishop Qiliho, lay off or you will face the same fate as those who do. Some of them are too lamu to return to Fiji. Ni gole yani vakadua. Sega na isa.

Anonymous said...

Father Kevin, welcome to the Fiji you helped to create as a vocal tool of this regime.

Well, they say that recognizing there's a problem is the first step to its solution. Just such a pity that it comes so late, as your naïveté helped to create misery for so many and reflected poorly on the Church.

Please, next time, serve God, not Mammon.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know why a roadblock at Muanikau? More goons with guns. Is this really the time for another show of force?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3.11am

Intimidating tactics to counter coming Black Tuesday protest. These goons are operating under fear and will react whenever they feel threatened.

Anonymous said...

Father Barr stop complaining as you are responsible for this shit by blindly supporting the Dec. 2006Coup at the expense of the poor and down trodden.

You are no champion of the poor and I hope that you and that other imbersile Mataca rot in hell and suffer for the pain and suffering you have brought on to the people of Fiji since December 2006.

You,Mataca and others had your heads so far up VB & Khaiyum's arse that you could not see right from wrong or anything else for that matter.

If the PS or Khaiyum held all this up why were not you or the Catholic Church out there protesting against it or were you more concerned about your allowances and free lunches that you were getting - Get a Life you Loser.

Anonymous said...

Roadblock at Muanikau was put up to stop people gatecrashing Vuaka's booze up. He's partying hard while the west is suffering. Nothing new here, just like in the last flood. He will wait until the waters subside then he will venture west. He's scared the waters might sweep him away as he can't swim.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Father Barr. It's so touching to hear you feel for the poor.

What were you doing anyway trying to champion a cause you know nothing about. Stick to your religious calling. Economics is not a forte of the Catholic church. All the predominantly Catholic countries of the EU have problems .... Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy. So keep to admonishing the flock on practices of piety.

Sharon Suaniu said...

Goons with guns at Muanikau to scare flood waters and rain.

Anonymous said...

Bullets have rusted from all the flood waters.

Anonymous said...

Thank you C4.5
Thank you Kevin Bar for a well researched article.
I hope you will apologise to the people of Fiji for your initial help to the Monster (Illegal Regime)you helped create.

Besides the revelation of Khaiyum and Bai's continuous lying what is interesting to me is that these 2 sacked a whole lot of Civil Servants on the grounds that they were doing a "clean up" and trying to make the government run more smoothly and avoid all sorts of red tape. And here in this article we see "red tape" at its worst.
Things that were gazzeted but not acted on etc etc etc.
Basically for Bai to say that his government now works better than previous government is another big fat lie.

We have seen the fruit and we know the tree.
This government is the worst that has ever ruled Fiji. More red tapes than ever. More corruption. More bribery and frankly just more bullshit.

You would have to feel sorry for these flooded villagers when Bai visits them and opens his mouth. The only thing that comes out is lies and more lies.

-Valataka na Dina.

Anonymous said...

Ian Simpson, Taveuni

It is obviuos from Fr. Barr's report that he has been ignored by a PS. It is at this strata that Fiji is being destroyed. The younger junior levels of the civil service I find to be a breath of fresh air.

That is why I believe the only hope for our nation is 1. a one party State 2. and more importantly to implement irrespective of what type of demcocracy , the decentrilization of the Public Service Commission into "District Guardian Councils"

With all due respect to Fr. Barr, he has a spcefifc mandate to achive, all and well, but what we need is for our economy as a whole to improve to a point where our dollar streghthens and every single individual in Fiji gains.

At this point wages will just drive inflation futher , and guess who picks up the tab for that, yep the poorest of the poor.

Thank you for informing us on your work Sir.

General voter said...

Why was Isireli Koyamainbole sacked?

Anonymous said...

Well said Ian Simpson.
Kevin Barr is an economist without experience.Pushing up wages is not the answer to reduce poverty. Focus should be on creating employment opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Father Barr is typical of the coup supporters and opportunists. They blame the officers who are merely carrying out the orders of the illegal regime and avoid laying the blame on the real culprits. In this case he is blaming the PS and implying that the illegal AG must have been fed wrong information and hence his speech. Same as with the FNPF saga. They are adamantly laying the blame on the FNPF CEO and management when it is obvious who are desperately pulling the strings for the changes to go through.