Fiji Union Council wants inquiry into labour rights
Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions wants to see a Commission of Inquiry into labour rights in the country as soon as possible.
The Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions wants to see a Commission of Inquiry into labour rights in the country as soon as possible.
It comes as the Human Rights Watch calls on members of the UN International Labour Organisation to enact an inquiry when it meets next week.
The council's secretary, Attar Singh, told Christopher Gilbert it has also written to the ILO to request one.
Attar Singh: We have put several complaints to the ILO regarding several decrees which have been violating worker rights and many trade union rights, including rights of trade unionists like me and others. All these complaints, as the world now knows, have been upheld by the ILO's governing body. Unfortunately Fiji's position remains that if there was to be a mission return to Fiji that can only take place after the election in September. In the mean time worker rights continue to be violated, trade unions are undermined and in many placers workers are intimidated. Workers feel they have no idea way to seek recourse.
Christopher Gilbert: Do you think that a Commission of Inquiry would have teeth to do an investigation in Fiji?
AS: Well, as we understand it, the Commission of Inquiry is the ultimate under the ILO system that they can instigate. We believe that it'll be able to bring to the fore the real issues facing Fiji's workers and trade unions and hopefully bring about some measure of relief.
CG: Do you think following recent events, such as the Sheraton strike and now these continued calls for a Commission of Inquiry, that pressure is now mounting and maybe this issue might start to come to a head?
AS: I would like to think so. I think all people will understand that this call is being made with a sincere interest to improve the workers lot and the trade unions lot in Fiji. It has to be clear to everybody who understands labour standards that what's happening in Fiji is not right, and that these things need to be resolved somehow or the other.
CG: Does the Fiji government have any tools at their disposal to block such an inquiry?
AS: They haven't said they'll block a Commission of Inquiry but they have very clearly stated to the ILO that if they wanted to bring their mission back to Fiji then their only option was to be, for the mission to return after the September election. And I think this could be seen as an obstacle in the sense that the regime here is trying everything possible to delay any kind of international scrutiny.
CG: If a Commission of Inquiry was to enter Fiji what is it likely to achieve?
AS: If effect I would like to think they'll make findings no different from what the ILO governing body has found and make recommendations which will greater, more authority, calling on the government to bring about changes.
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