|GAME PLAYER: Bainimarama last week.|
Has the illegal prime minister really appealed to trade unions to back off from petitioning the US Generalized system of Preferences Scheme to withdraw the duty free access to Fiji exporters?
He and supporters have certainly tried to blame the Fiji Trade Union Congress leaders Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai for its current demise but the regime has no-one to blame but itself.
Over the weekend, Frank Bainimarama told the Divisional Crime Prevention carnival he was disappointed by the action of the trade union's which could hurt Fiji exporters and lead to job losses. (39 companies are affected and a loss of 15,000 jobs has been touted).
Bainimarama has not spoken directly to FTUC and has only made the 'appeal' via a news story, so we're inclined to think that while this might look like a softening (and some might say a first since 2006), it is lame and typical of his modus operandi.
Bainimarama happily allowed his hand-picked attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, to manufacture and impose the punishing Essential Service's Decree with no consultation and no regrets because it suited him.
Fiji has been now forced to send a delegation to Washington where it will tomorrow defend the FTUC action, but it was warned a number of times about being fair to the labour movement, even as recent as last month, when it sent the ILO delegation packing.
The Auckland based Council for a Democratic Fiji rightly notes in a statement released today that Bainimarama's 11th hour appeal is unconvincing.
"The truth of the matter is that the Essential Services Decree blatantly violates international labor principles and standards, which is the only reason for the US sanctions. So, if the US government requires these standards be met by Fiji, how is it the fault of the union leaders? Like Fiji, Iraq is also facing the same sanction, so are there people like Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai in Iraq too?"
Bainimarama was warned as early as December in 2011 by Sharon Burrow, General Secretary International Trade Union Confederation in a letter that the Essential Services Decree was in breach of the international labour standards.
AS CDFD says, Bainimarama chose instead to accept the assurances of Sayed Khaiyum, and today he finds himself resorting to the blame game.
Burrows letter had said:
|BURROW: Letter had warned of mplications|
"On May 16, 2011, your government promulgated the Employment Relations Amendment Decree which amended the Employment Relations Promulgation of 2007 to exclude all public service workers from the scope of its’ coverage. Thus, roughly 15,000 workers in Fiji’s public service were divested of their important labor rights available under that law, such as collective bargaining and the right to strike, overnight.
"On July 29, the government promulgated the Essential Industries Decree, which divested most private sector workers in key industries of their rights. As explained by the ILO Director General Juan Somavia, the decree has “very far reaching implications” including the “ending of existing collective agreements, the designation of new bargaining agents which may not be trade unions, and the possible imposition of compulsory arbitration of disputes and other limits on the right to strike.”
"Implementing regulations issued on September 9, 2011 subsequently designated the finance, telecoms, civil aviation, and public utilities sectors as essential and purports to allow the military government to include any other industries as and when it wishes.
"Together, these decrees are widely viewed as a direct attack on the independent trade union movement, among the strongest voices in Fijian civil society.
"In the five years since you assumed power through extra-constitutional means, few steps have been taken to restore the right of Fiji Islanders to participate fully and freely in the governance of their own country. Rather than embracing the important role that civil society, human rights defenders, and trade unions play in good governance, your government has systematically repressed such groups. As international human rights, labor, and press organizations, we urge you to commit publicly to your international human rights obligations and take all necessary measures to protect human rights in Fiji”.
Bainimarama was also at the time urged to show leadership in a number of areas including ordering security personnel to uphold human rights, allow free assembly and association, investigate and prosecute all security force personnel who engage in arbitrary arrest and detention, investigate attacks on journalists and human rights defenders, and physical abuse of detainees - none of which he agreed to.