Fiji: Interview with Felix Anthony

Questions and answers with Felix Anthony, National Secretary Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC)and member of ILO Governing Body...

Press release | Geneva, Switzerland | 14 November 2012

What are the latest developments in Fiji in term of workers’ rights in your country?

Felix Anthony:
Workers’ rights in Fiji remain a serious concern, and this has been highlighted in the Report to the Committee on Freedom of Association in this Governing Body. Of course Fiji has been identified as one of the five serious cases of violations of workers’ rights and the situation remains – there has been absolutely no improvement or change in the situation in Fiji. The decrees that were imposed by the interim regime continue to be in effect and this seriously curtails the rights of workers and trade unions in Fiji.

The Committee on Freedom of Association has adopted their report with a case on Fiji. From your union’s perspective, what is your view about this report?

Felix Anthony:
The Report is a very good report – with much detail of the violations that have taken place and we are also very pleased with the Recommendations of the Committee as well, urging the Government to act on some serious concerns that have been raised, and we certainly hope that this is going to pave the way for some tripartite discussions between the parties in Fiji; and we hope that discussions will eventuate into trying to amend the current labour legislation in the country and, not only that, but the repealing of the decrees that have been imposed that limit workers’ rights, or deny workers’ rights in Fiji. We take note of the commitment that the Fijian Government gave to the Governing Body, in that they are committed to reviewing all legislation that violates labour standards; committed to acting on the Recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association. We welcome that commitment and we are prepared to engage with the Fijian Government on this and we certainly hope that, this time around, the Fijian Government are going to keep up to this commitment, and not make excuses as they have in the past. We are also very mindful, while I say this that the Fijian Government has made commitments in the past, and they have not been honoured.

What are your expectations vis-à-vis the ILO for the improvement of social dialogue and, in particular ILO Conventions Nos. 87 on freedom of association, and 98 on collective bargaining, in Fiji?

Felix Anthony:
Certainly the Report calls for dialogue amongst the tripartite partners to try and resolve the issues of Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 and, in particular, we have over the last few months engaged with our social partners in trying to address the concerns over Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 and we have come up with very firm conclusions. One of these is the revocation of the decrees that violate both these Conventions and we are hoping that the Government will take on board the Recommendations of the tripartite partners and act on this. We are also keen to engage with our social partners and continue to have dialogue on all other aspects of labour legislation, and we certainly hope that we can address them as well. Of course, we are very mindful of the fact that we may need some assistance from the ILO to get this social dialogue moving and we are hopeful that the ILO will be prepared to help us whenever we may need that assistance.