Decision on the eighth item on the agenda: Latest developments in Fiji in light of the resolution of the 15th Asia–Pacific Regional Meeting

Record of decisions | 15 November 2012

Decision on the eighth item on the agenda: Latest developments in Fiji in light of the resolution of the 15th Asia–Pacific Regional Meeting

The Governing Body adopted the following resolution on the trade union situation in Fiji.

The Governing Body of the International Labour Office,

Noting with great concern that the Government of Fiji stopped the International Labour Organization (ILO) from carrying out a direct contacts mission in September 2012 to verify complaints regarding freedom of association;

Noting that the Government presented the mission with new and unacceptable terms of reference which differed from those agreed prior to the mission and, ultimately instructed the mission to leave Fiji immediately;

Recalling that the ILO direct contacts mission was undertaken pursuant to the recommendations of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (Case No. 2723, Interim report, November 2011) as well as the resolution on the trade union situation in Fiji, adopted at the 15th ILO Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in December 2011;

Noting that Fijian trade unionists have recently been detained, harassed and continue to be prosecuted on allegedly specious grounds;

Noting that since 2009, the Government has issued executive decrees that sharply curtail trade union and labour rights in both the public and private sectors; have deprived Fijian workers of their fundamental rights guaranteed by ILO Conventions Nos 87 and 98; eliminated access to judicial review and redress for past, present and future violations; and disallowed the right to question the legality of the decrees themselves;

Noting that these were made without consultation with Fijian social partners;

Noting that while the Public Emergency Regulations of 2009 were repealed in 2012, they were replaced with the Public Order Amendment Decree (POAD) of 2012, which continues to require the social partners to seek the consent of the authorities prior to holding meetings;

Noting that the POAD contains additional provisions that trade unions fear could sharply curtail their right to freely associate and to otherwise carry out trade union activity;

Recalling furthermore that the Essential National Industries Decree in 2011 has cancelled union registrations and requires all trade unions in critical corporations (including finance, telecoms, civil aviation, and all foreign banks and public utilities sectors) to be re-registered under the Decree, and that the Decree further prevents trade unions from electing full-time trade union officials into office and only allows for the establishment of bargaining units with the prior approval of the Prime Minister;

Concerned that these decrees have had an impact on trade unions regarding both their membership and finances; and that, following the decrees, union recognition and the continued observation of collective agreements has been questioned;

Regretting that, while the Government invited Fijian trade union representatives to one meeting to discuss potential labour law reforms, since then no meeting has been held;

Considering that the above actions will continue to have adverse consequences for investment and employment in Fiji and further noting the damage already done to its standing in the region and the international community;

Recalling further the deep concern expressed and the actions recommended by the tripartite ILO constituents in the region as reflected in the resolution adopted at the ILO Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in Kyoto in December 2011, which has not been implemented by the Fiji Government;

1. Deeply regrets, in view of these serious concerns, the actions of the Fiji Government; and

2. Instructs the Director-General to:

(a) work with the Fiji Government to seek its acceptance of the direct contacts mission under the previously agreed terms of reference, which are based on the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association on Case No. 2723;

(b) urge that the Government, together with the social partners, find appropriate solutions in law and in practice which are in conformity with freedom of association principles;

(c) continue to closely monitor the situation in Fiji and work to safeguard the human and labour rights of Fijian workers; and

(d) report to the Governing Body at its 317th Session (March 2013) on action taken and developments regarding the trade union situation in Fiji.

(Document GB.316/INS/8.)