Fiji - ILO intervention looming

05 November 2015

This subject will be of interest to many of our clients who operate in Fiji. Unionism has been repressed in Fiji since the coup in 2006 and for some time the ILO has been applying pressure on the Government to address the situation.

A tripartite report to the ILO was due by 15 October but that did not materialise and now the unions are seeking an ILO commission of inquiry, with the prospect of trade sanctions being applied.

Despite positive utterances the report would be submitted by the deadline, it now transpires the parties have not met since returning from an ILO governing body meeting in June.

The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) and the Labour Minister finally conceded that there was an agreement signed in March which identified six areas of concern that were in breach of ILO conventions.  The parties agreed to review labour laws including the Essential National Industries Decree and agreed to comply with ILO core conventions.  They also agreed that any issues should be negotiated through the Employment Relations Advisory Board.

The Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU) and the Fiji Trades Union Congress both refused to sign the report.  FICTU general secretary Attar Singh says that they are concerned about how broad the government has defined 'essential services' which he says restricts strike action.

Mr Singh says the unions will now leave it to the ILO to decide at its next meeting in November, if it will begin a commission of inquiry, the highest level of investigative procedure the ILO can take.  Watch this space......