World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Fiji government plan to severely restrict worker rights

Amnesty International media release
For immediate release
9 August 2011
Warning on Fiji government plan to severely restrict workers' rights
Amnesty International has called on the government of Fiji to repeal a decree that would drastically restrict workers' rights and to immediately cease the harassment of union leaders.

Government measures published on 29 July would, if enacted, violate international labour law and Fiji’s human rights obligations. The government must ensure that Fiji’s workers are able to exercise their labour rights freely.

Fiji has an obligation to uphold the rights of its workers - including the specific rights to organise, to bargain collectively and to strike.

The “Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree” published in the government Gazette, would take away nearly all collective bargaining rights, severely curtail the right to strike, ban overtime payments and void existing collective agreements for workers in key sectors of the economy including sugar, aviation and tourism. The Decree also authorises employers in government-designated enterprises to dictate working conditions while denying their workers the right to a voice through independent unions.

The latest measures open a new flank in a wider attack on unions in Fiji, where workers are facing repression from the authorities, including the harassment of leaders of the Fiji Trades Union Congress. Virtually all public sector workers have already had their employment and union rights summarily curtailed though an earlier Decree in May this year.

The government of Fiji claims that the measures are needed to ensure the development, viability and sustainability of industries that are essential to the economy, but the best way to achieve these goals is by respecting the fundamental human rights and dignity of those whose labour underpins these enterprises. As it is, Fiji is failing in its duty to deliver decent work to its people. Forty percent of Fijians are reported to live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day, and more than half of those in full time employment earn wages below the poverty line. Independent trade unions are sorely needed.

Fundamental human rights are at stake, including the right to freedom of association and assembly, and the right to organise. Amnesty International stands steadfast in solidarity with workers in Fiji and the Fiji labour movement in their struggle to defend their rights.

Amnesty International is further concerned by the 4 August arrest of Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) President Daniel Urai and Hotels Union staff member, Dinesh Gounder, and the harassment of FTUC General Secretary Felix Anthony. The two men have been charged under the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) for holding a meeting without a permit. Both have been freed on bail and are due to appear in court on 2 September.

The arrests and harassment of trade unionists are a violation of the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and of Fiji’s obligations to respect freedom of association and assembly and the right to organise. Trade unionists should not need permits or permissions to meet their members.

The 2009 Public Emergency Regulations enable the government to violate key human rights whilst promulgating impunity for those committing such violations. Amnesty International continues to call for an immediate repeal of these regulations.


BACKGROUND

0n 8 August the ILO expressed its “serious concern about developments in Fiji”, including the arrests of the two trade union leaders under the PER and the new restrictive Decree.

Under international law, all workers have a human right to form and join trade unions, to bargain collectively and to strike.

These rights are an essential foundation to the realisation of other rights, and are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and conventions adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), including core conventions 87 and 98 which have been ratified by Fiji.

As a member of the ILO, the Government of Fiji also has a commitment, through the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, to respect, promote and realise the fundamental rights set out in the organisation’s core conventions.

Moves to limit fundamental workers’ rights in Fiji are also at odds with commitments made under the Cotonou Agreement which defines the European Union’s relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, including Fiji.

Amnesty International has outlined its concerns about the Public Emergency Regulations in its detailed report in 2009, Fiji: Paradise Lost, A tale of ongoing human rights abuses April-July 2009, available at http://www.amnesty.org.nz/files/ai-fiji-report-FINAL-sept09.pdf


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Tale Of Two Pandemics: Follow The Science And Do Not Forget One At The Cost Of The Other

Covid-19 has posed innumerable health, economic, and social challenges for all, including people living with HIV. It has exposed the fragility of health systems around the globe and has diverted political attention and funding from other infectious diseases like TB and HIV... More>>


UN: Rights Chief Calls For Prompt Release Of Protestors Held In Cuba
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the prompt release of protestors and journalists detained during anti-government demonstrations in Cuba, some of whom are being held incommunicado... More>>



Scarce Goods: Isolating Daraa Al-Balad Threatens 40,000 With Starvation

The siege imposed by the Syrian government forces on Daraa al-Balad since June 24 would lead to serious humanitarian repercussions if it continues, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement on July 15, calling for lifting the siege urgently and allowing the entry of basic humanitarian supplies... More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs



Shaping The Future Of Food Systems: Thousands Commit To Dialogues Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 130 governments are making food systems a top priority amid the pandemic and committing to an unprecedented programme of Dialogues in the run up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September... More>>

UN: Play:Fair For People And Planet – A Major United Nations Music Activation
organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign in partnership with Music Innovation Hub, Keychange, the city of Milan, the Milan Triennale, and partners from the SDG Music Network, will be held at an unexpected location in the center of Milan, Italy, taking into account safety measures with a limited on-site audience consisting of activists and fans... More>>


UN: Next 18 Months Seen As Pivotal In Global Efforts To Achieve Key Goals

Next 18 months seen as pivotal in global efforts to reverse punishing pandemic impacts and boost actions to achieve key goals - Even as pandemic erases decades of gains in development, response efforts show signs of renewed global commitment to accelerate SDG progress... More>>