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

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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.

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