Education Minister slams trade unions over claims
Mahendra Reddy states they cannot say they have not been consulted
Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy says trade unions are not being serious when they claim they are not being consulted on education issues. He was commenting yesterday on a statement by Council of Pacific Education’s (COPE) secretary general, Govind Singh, that unions were legitimate development partners in the delivery of education and should be consulted. Mr Reddy said the unions could not say they were not being consulted. He said his ministry had held education forums where education stakeholders were invited. “I can give you evidence recorded at an education forum that they said they were happy with all our reforms,” Mr Reddy said.
“A week later, they released a statement saying they are not happy. What are they saying? I can’t really understand them.
“They are invited to all the Education forums we have. Sometimes they turn up and leave half way. “We are trying our best to engage with unions, but it seems they have some ulterior motive. “We can’t run after them when they don’t have Government’s vision for education at heart. “We can only work together if we have a common objective.
“It seems quality education for children is not their ultimate motive. “I get shocked when I see them supporting teachers for gross misconduct. That demonstrates to me that they don’t have children’s interests at heart. That their objective is something else.” He said unions should be attending the forums to express their views. But implementing policies was the prerogative of the ministry not the unions. He clarified that was what he meant when he said recently that unions could not run the ministry. Mr Singh said: “Unions do not want to run anybody’s ministry.” Mr Singh added that trade unions were development partners and it was a misconception that they were trouble makers. Mr Singh spoke at the COPE Regional Young Educators Training Programme at Tanoa Skylodge Hotel in Nadi. The young participants are from teacher organisations in the South Pacific. The programme also saw representatives from Fijian Teachers Association and the Fiji Teachers Union attend. A wide range of topics were discussed which included trade unions, religion, language and many other challenges in the education sector.
I can give you evidence recorded at an education forum that they said they were happy with all our reforms
Minister for Education
The Council of Pacific Education (COPE) secretary general, Govind Singh (right), having a discussion with the participants of the COPE Regional Young Educators Training Programme at Tanoa Skylodge Hotel in Nadi yesterday.