31 May 2011

Chaudhry doubts Fiji unions' future power

3:11 pm on 31 May 2011

Fiji's Public Service Commission says its cost-saving measures are showing results.

In a statement, the Commission says there have been cost savings of 12.4 millon US dollars in the first quarter through measures such as freezing staff appointments and better links between staffing and wages.

There has been criticism of a decree which exempts public servants from provisions of the Employment Relations Promulgation.

A former Prime Minister of Fiji and head of the Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, is worried that the right to bargain collectively is being done away with:

"The trade union movement is being rendered ineffective. You know we've got umpteen decrees which really take away the fundamental rights to negotiate and bargain collectively. In the public sector it's pretty bad. Now the government has a free hand it can do pretty much anything it wants and the unions cannot challenge that."

Mr Chaudhry, who was part of the post-coup interim administration for two years, doubts there will be a trade union movement left that will be effective in protecting the welfare of the workers.

But the permament sectary of the public service, Parmesh Chand, says the changes are in the interest of efficiency and do not detract from public servants' rights.