Press Release: Display of Arrogance and Ignorance
The FTUC condemns statements attributed to local government Minister Bala stating that Councils will not deal with Trade Unions and will deal with workers directly. This statement demonstrates clearly the arrogance and the ignorance of this Minister of the current government. He clearly has no idea of what the Employment Relations Act is, and the rights of workers in the Constitution that his very government imposed on the people of Fiji. He has no knowledge of ILO Core Conventions or the principles of Tripartism. He is simply unqualified to be minister of anything.
The FTUC now calls on the Minister to educate himself on the very fundamental principles of industrial relations and if he has not been able to understand that in the 4 years he has been in office, he has no right to remain a Minister and must resign.
It is no surprise that none of the Municipal Councils have signed a collective agreement with the Unions despite many attempts by unions to do so. Unions are not the third party but the only other party where workers decide to collectively bargain. That is a right enshrined in our labour laws, the Constitution and international law. The Minister’s Government has repeatedly assured the international community and ILO that it respects these rights. Here we have a Minister who calls Unions the ‘third party” and will not deal with them. This double talk has become the hallmark of this Government.
The FTUC calls on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to confirm the Minister’s remarks as the true government policy and if not what action is going to be taken for such irresponsible and arrogant statement by the minister. Let us see what this government stands for.
We also note that this Minister despite being ineligible to be a candidate in the last elections after the Court had ruled that the Supervisor of Elections was wrong in disregarding the decision of the Electoral Commission in disqualifying him, no action was taken by the Supervisor of Elections. Had it been an opposition member, the Supervisor of elections would have acted immediately. We need an explanation from the Supervisor of Elections, why he has failed to act. He has been quick to report any trivial matter to FICAC when it comes to the Opposition Parties. This begs the question of the independence of the Supervisor of Elections.
It is because of the inaction of the Supervisor of Elections, that we face this display of arrogance and disregard for the laws of Fiji by this minister who thinks he can get away with murder.