ANGER OVER UNION MOVES
A-G: Union leadership have made it increasingly apparent they have no concern for the well-being of Fijian civil servants and a blatant disregard for the best interests of the Fijian people
The following is a statement from the Acting Prime Minister and AttorneyGeneral and Minister for Civil Service Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum responding to unionists’ claims on civil service reforms:
Recent comments made by union leadership regarding the civil service reform agenda have made it increasingly apparent they have no concern for the well-being of Fijian civil servants and a blatant disregard for the best interests of the Fijian people. For six months, the Fijian Government has attempted, on multiple, documented occasions, to meet with union leadership to formally begin the negotiation process—a necessary requirement, by law, for commencing the process of a secret ballot.
For six months, union leadership has stalled, dithered and, ultimately, failed to come to the negotiating table.
Rather than work constructively for the benefit of their membership, union leadership has instead
chosen to violate the Amended Employment Relations Act 2015 by failing to enter into any negotiation process prior to proposing a secret ballot for strike.
It is deeply ironic that the Unions would put forward unfounded allegations that Government had not adhered to regulations, when they themselves have so blatantly violated the law.
The Fijian Government, in the absence of union leadership on this issue, has gone directly to the public and civil servants in its work to modernise the civil service, better recognise specialisation and compensate civil servants at competitive market rates. Without any support from union leadership, Fijian civil servants have been granted pay rises of up to 70-80 per cent for the first time in Fijian history and civil servants have greeted the reform agenda with an overwhelming positive response during the nationwide roadshow events.
Fiji’s eight straight years of economic growth have put the Government in the position to grant these historic pay-rises and offer favourable terms and conditions on contracts that exceed what is usually found in the private sector. In the face of this progress, union leadership has engaged in a desperate campaign to seek relevance. By proposing an unlawful strike, they have attempted to hold our thriving economy hostage in the name of their own self-interests, and limit the economic prosperity that has yielded such benefits for their membership. While fully aware they have let deadlines lapse and have broken Fijian law, union leadership are also now grasping at straws by threatening to file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation to stall the implementation of the reforms and limit Fiji’s economic potential.
These deliberate efforts by union leadership to sabotage the reform agenda will not deter Government in its work to increase the transparency and accountability of civil service administration and improve both workplace conditions and the services made available to the Fijian people. Government’s support to civil servants will remain unwavering, as will our commitment to improve the Fijian civil service.