Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Fiji

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Fiji, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec7c27.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 849,000
Capital: Suva
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The government created after the 2006 military coup strengthened its grip on power by removing more and more opponents. The president of the Fijian Teachers Association was sacked for calling for a return to democracy.

Trade union rights in law

Many excessive restrictions exist despite recent improvements. Freedom of association is secured in the Constitution, and the Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP) 2007 adequately protects workers against anti-union discrimination. However, the Registrar has discretionary powers to refuse to register a union with an "undesirable" name, as well as to cancel the registration of a union in cases provided by the law. While the ERP promotes and encourages collective bargaining, the right to strike is limited. A strike can not be called in relation to union recognition, and must always be approved by more than 50% of the paid-up members. In addition, unions are required to give 21 days' notice prior to calling a normal strike, and 49 days in "essential" industries. Furthermore, the names of all the strike participants must be communicated to the Ministry of Labour, which also has the right to declare an existing or proposed strike unlawful, in which case the dispute is referred to arbitration. Both the Ministry and the employers can also impose compulsory arbitration when the strike is not considered to be in the public interests or could jeopardise the economy. Trade unionists can face criminal charges and risk imprisonment if they persist with strike action.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: Commodore Frank Bainimarama heads a civilian government that has no democratic legitimacy, having resulted from a military coup in 2006. The Court of Appeal, the country's second highest court, decreed on 9 April 2009 that the coup d'état was illegal. The following day President Iloilo suspended the Constitution and removed several senior civil servants from office, including judges, the governor of the Central Bank and the President of the Supreme Court. He then reappointed Frank Bainimarama as Prime Minister and imposed an "Emergency Regulation" which restricted the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and authorised press censorship. Many people who criticised the coup d'état were taken to military camps where they were interrogated and in some cases mistreated.

At the end of January Rex Gardner, a journalist on a daily paper that was often the target of intimidation by the authorities, the Fiji Times, was expelled from the country after criticising the Supreme Court's decision upholding the legality of the 2006 military coup. It was the third time a journalist was expelled from the country in less than a year.

Collective bargaining in practice: While the law does not promote individual contracts, in practice they are common. Employers tend to offer advantageous packages to new employees, especially graduates or skilled personnel in key industries, as a means of promoting individual contracts. This practice greatly reduces the possibilities for collective bargaining and weakens the trade unions.

Export processing zones and migrant workers: According to the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) many different means are being used to discourage workers in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) from forming unions. Fear of reprisals from the employers is one of the main obstacles. The FTUC reports similar difficulties

and obstacles in organising workers brought to Fiji by their employers.

President of the Fijian Teachers' Association sacked: The president of the Fijian Teachers' Association (FTA), Tevita Koroi, was sacked from his job as principal of Nasinu Secondary School on 30 April by the Fiji Public Service Commission. It accused Mr. Koroi of breaching the terms of Fiji's public service code of conduct by publicly calling, in December 2008, for a return to parliamentary democracy. Further to the suspension of the Constitution, there are almost no avenues through the judicial system to appeal his dismissal. The FTA and Education International have lodged a complaint with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association for violation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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