8 Nov 2011

Fiji workers rush to set up bargaining units as deadline passes

1:58 pm on 8 November 2011

The General Secretary of Fiji's Council of Trade Unions Attar Singh says there is difficulty and confusion as workers try to comply with the Essential National Industries Decree.

From today all existing collective agreements applying to so-called essential industries are no longer valid.

Professional unionists are banned from representing workers in industries deemed vital by Fiji's interim government, including the four major banks, Air Pacific and some telecommunications companies.

Mr Singh says workers are now trying to get themselves organised into the permitted bargaining units but registering and organising is not easy.

"These people are workers employed by the various organisations and they have never been involved in this kind of work. They have been confined to going to work and doing the work for the employer and going home and relying on their union and the union office to provide all the assistance. To them this is a whole new ballgame."

Attar Singh says past employment conditions are now at risk of being amended but so far there has been no such action.