Apr 19, 2019 Last Updated 4:50 AM, Apr 19, 2019

Fiji ’s industrial relations mechanisms have come under the spotlight yet again in a new International Labour Organisation report.

The Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, released in February addresses several issues that Fiji unions have raised with the ILO.

On the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, the report notes submissions from the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) dated from October 2017 and August 2018.

“The Government has not engaged in good faith to amend the legislation (Employment Relations Act 2016) to bring it into conformity with the Convention, and…the ERAB (Employment Relations Advisory Board) has not held meetings as agreed and has now been shut down without any review of the legislation or legislative amendment,” the ILO report notes.

FTUC’s submissions to the ILO also note restrictions placed on unions to organise demonstrations and hold meetings, and state that resolving disputes has become difficult, if not impossible.

“The Committee notes with concern the allegations of the FTUC that the Government has systematically dismantled tripartism by removing and/or replacing the tripartite representation on a number of bodies (including the ERAB, the Fiji National Provident Fund, the Fiji National University’s Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji, the Air Terminal Service and the Wages Councils) with its own nominees,” the ILO report. The ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations is urging the Fiji Government to take all necessary measures, including the reconvening of the Employment Relations Advisory Board.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress had also raised concerns with the ILO on prohibitions to organise meetings and rallies. “The Committee notes the FTUC’s allegations that permission for union meetings and public gatherings continues to be arbitrarily refused. It once again requests the Government to take the necessary measures to bring section 8 into line with the Convention by fully repealing or amending this provision

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We’re referendum-ready

  • Apr 19, 2019
  • Published in January

BOUGAINVILLEANS are to vote in June this year to decide whether to remain part of Papua New Guinea or to be independent.

The national government has tasked the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) to formulate and finalise the questions that will be on the ballot paper and the tentative dates for the referendum.

On the ground in Bougainville, there has been a lot of preparatory work including public awareness programmes and activities to help people understand the process.

Elected leaders in PNG’s three-tier government system on Bougainville have helped in awareness works in the three electorates of North, Central and South Bougainville. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has warned Bougainville to be wary of possible outside interference in the lead up to the referendum. He said such interferences could come in the form of misinformation.

The former prime minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern has been appointed by the Joint Supervisory Body as chair of the BRC. During his term as prime minister, Ahern was involved in negotiations between parties to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

He has since been involved in facilitating peace in other hot spots around the world including Ukraine, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey and the Basque Country.

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FIJI’S Catholic Church will consider the closure of its schools and public protests if it cannot successfully resolve an impasse with the Ministry of Education over the appointment of school heads.

But any form of civil disobedience will be the final option for consideration only if three other proposals fail. Archbishop of Suva Dr Peter Loy Chong and church leaders met Education Permanent Secretary Alison Burchell early this month following the appointment of non-Catholics to head key church schools.

After raising objections publicly, Archbishop Chong proposed that meeting in an effort to find compromise.

After some heated discussions and the refusal of the Education Ministry to agree to common grounds, the Archbishop of Suva issued a statement where he asked for support and prayers “in this process of continued discernment.”

“Since there were strong reactions in social and mainstream media to the sudden appointments of non-Catholic principals to Catholic schools, particularly to Xavier College and St. Thomas’ High School, Archbishop Chong wrote a letter to the Minister for Education, Hon. Rosy Akbar, requesting that the two Monfort Brothers remain in their positions.

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FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu -- The government of Tuvalu has rejected findings of a research conducted by scientists at the Auckland University that says the tiny island nation may not be sinking due to the impact of climate change. Enele Sopoaga has called on scientists and the media to exercise care when conducting research of atoll islands such as Tuvalu which he is Prime Minister of, so as not to confuse the public.

Speaking at press conference he called in Suva, Fiji last month, PM Sogopaga said Tuvaluan as well as Pacific scientists whom he did not name believed the research ‘had holes.’ “The important thing is to have the scientific reports properly clarified by credible scientific communities,” the PM said. “The scientists working with us are very stunned by the manner in which this report was done and was released and the media was able to pick it up and put it out without verification.”

Funded by the Auckland University, the New Zealand study largely based on 40 years’ worth of imagery of the Tuvaluan shoreline concluded amongst other things that the country’s habitable land mass had expanded.

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Beijing, CHINA - China has lashed out at Australia’s criticism of its foreign aid to the Pacific while Pacific Island countries have spoken in China’s defensestating the country has heavily assisted the Pacific region. Speaking to journalists in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang said Australia’s accusations against China was borne out of Canberra’s reluctance to see the Pacific Islands realise independent and sustainable development.

“On the basis of fully respecting the will of the governments and people of the Pacific Islands countries and their development needs, China has been assisting them within its capabilities with no political strings attached in particular and such assistance has greatly boosted their socio-economic development and received warm welcome,” said Kang.

Late last year, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific Concetta Fierravanti-Wells told The Australian newspaper that China was constructing “useless buildings” in the Pacific. She told the ABC’s Pacific Beat programme she was concerned that some Pacific countries were taking on debts they could not afford to repay. 

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