FTUC is keen to participate in genuine consultations but will not be part of any circus that Govt puts on - Anthony
Bala needs to learn fast as he is yet to grasp the basics of industrial relations - FTUC

FTUC is keen to participate in genuine consultations but will not be part of any circus that Govt puts on - Anthony

Bala needs to learn fast as he is yet to grasp the basics of industrial relations - FTUC

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 11/03/2022
Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary Felix Anthony

Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary, Felix Anthony says the government is putting the cart before the horse as the Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala and his consultants have already told the people what they considered should be the minimum wage, and are then having public consultations before having the Employment Relations Advisory Board meetings.

He says although the Employment Relations Act required the Ministry of Employment to convene an Employment Relations Advisory Board meeting to consult with the social partners on the minimum wage, the Government decided to consult the public first and they understand that this is election year, so they needed to create a hype in public.

Anthony says just a day after the FTUC reminded the Government of the law it ought to have followed, FTUC received an invitation to attend the Employment Relations Advisory Board meeting dated 9th March and received on 10th March, which is scheduled for the 16th of March, just about a week before the Mini Budget where Government hopes to announce the new minimum wage.

The FTUC National Secretary says they have no illusion that the Employment Relations Advisory Board meeting is simply called for the social partners to rubberstamp the Government’s decision and to fulfill its obligation under the law.

Anthony says they in the FTUC do not take part in any meeting where they will be used to rubberstamp Government decisions and for Government to parade in the international community of its desire to consult social partners.

He says Bala needs to learn and learn fast as his term is almost coming to an end and he has yet to grasp the very basics of industrial relations.

Anthony says they reiterate that FTUC is keen to participate in genuine consultations on any issue regarding workers in Fiji but definitely will not be part of any circus that Government puts on. He also says Bala may also wish to appraise himself on his Government’s Commitment on SDG 1 on eradication of poverty instead of making silly allegations that the FTUC is politicizing the issue of minimum wage.

Anthony says the FTUC has called for a decent minimum wage consistently over the many years that this Government has been in power.

He says these calls fell on deaf ears, and those ears of Government are only open to the rich businesses who have habitually exploited workers to maximize their profits.

Anthony also says Bala in the statement that was written for him, stated that Anthony did not attend any consultation and that employers attended.

He says he does not believe that the Minister checked to see that workers around the country also attended and have attempted to put sense in the Government to ensure a decent minimum wage which would get people out of poverty, fully understanding, that it is an impossible task to get this Minister or his entire Government to understand that a living wage is the answer.

Anthony couldn’t be bothered to drive his union-funded vehicle to a single minimum wage consultation to make a submission - Bala

Ministry working towards calling an ERAB meeting shortly

By Vijay Narayan

Friday 11/03/2022

Minister of Employment, Parveen Bala says Felix Anthony from Fiji Trade Union Congress has refused to join a single session of the Ministry’s 11 well-advertised public consultations held as part of the national process to review the national minimum wage and sectoral based minimum wages.

Bala says they have to ask why Felix Anthony couldn’t be bothered to drive his union-funded vehicle to a single consultation to make a submission on behalf of FTUC’s due-paying members.

Bala says the consultations were joined by employers, employees and other stakeholders across the country,

He says the FTUC also failed to provide any written submissions.

Bala says the Ministry teams organised week-long consultations in Labasa, Savusavu, Nausori, Navua, Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Rakiraki, Tavua, Ba and Suva, and not once did Anthony bother to join them.

The Minister says rather than joining the consultations, Anthony has been in the media complaining he wasn’t consulted.

Bala says while he keeps up his childish boycott, the Ministry will continue the real work of managing and consulting employers' and workers’ interests so that we can keep and create fairly-paid jobs in Fiji.

The Minister of Employment says Anthony also knows full well that the minimum wage review will be presented to the Employment Relations Advisory Board because he has been a board member for years.

Bala says in line with the normal process, the Ministry undertook public consultation first with the consultant to get views of employees and employers and now the report will be presented to the Employment Relations Advisory Board and then to Cabinet.

He says there is no breach of the Employment Relations Act 2007 after comments by Anthony that the consultations need to be done with the board, and not just the way in which it is being done now.

Bala says the Ministry has a plan in place and they are working towards calling an Employment Relations Advisory Board meeting shortly.

Bala further says this is not the time for games or politicising.

He says at a time when foreign conflicts, rising freight costs, and supply chain constraints are raising the cost of living globally, the efforts to ensure Fijians are paid fair wages is too important for any organisation or individual to ignore.

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