11th December 05:12 PM
Singh tells members that strike will be legal if they all walk out
By Vijay Narayan
Friday 29/09/2017
The General Secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union Agni Deo Singh

The General Secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union Agni Deo Singh has revealed their plan to the civil servants where he has said that they will go on strike even if there is no strike ballot.

Although the law is clear that the public sector unions have to enter the negotiation process and go for a strike ballot when there is a deadlock, the unions are now calling on the workers to just walk off their jobs.

They can only go on strike if more than 50% of the members agree to walk out of their jobs.

The Confederation of Public Sector Unions which is made of the Fiji Public Service Association, Fiji Teachers Union, Fijian Teachers Association and Fiji Nursing Association, has 14,000 members.

The total number of civil servants is more than 28,000.

When asked by one of the members in the union rally at FTA Hall on what they will do if they do not get their way in the Employment Tribunal, FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh said everyone can just walk off their jobs.

170 members attended the rally in Suva on Tuesday.

The Confederation of Public Sector Unions says that they will challenge the decision made by the Registrar of Trade Unions that they cannot have the strike ballot until they exhaust all the negotiation processes with the government.

General Secretary Rajeshwar Singh says their matter will be heard by the Employment Tribunal on the 4th of October.

They wanted to have the strike ballot from this Tuesday to the 8th of October.

Fijivillage has been informed that the unions were planning to time the strike during the external exams for the students.

Rajeshwar Singh says that they had been called for several meetings by the Civil Service Reform Management Unit and he says that this was not a negotiation.

He says it was just about the government telling the unions what they would be doing and not asking for their opinions.

Minister for Civil Service Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had earlier said that the recent comments made by union leadership regarding the civil service reform agenda have made it increasingly apparent they have no concern for the well‑being of Fijian civil servants and a blatant disregard for the best interests of the Fijian people.

In a statement, Sayed-Khaiyum says for six months, the government has attempted on multiple documented occasions to meet with union leadership to formally begin the negotiation process, a necessary requirement by law for commencing the process of a secret ballot.

He says for six months, union leadership has stalled, dithered and ultimately failed to come to the negotiating table.

The Minister for Civil Service says rather than work constructively for the benefit of their membership, union leadership has instead chosen to violate the Amended Employment Relations Act 2015 by failing to enter into any negotiation process prior to proposing a secret ballot for strike. 

Bainimarama calls on unions to follow the law in relation to strike action

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the constitution is clear for unions and their members wanting to take strike action.

He says they have the right to strike provided the strike is termed legal and all the provisions are exhausted.

While speaking to Fijivillage, Bainimarama said that it sounds like Fiji Teachers Union General Secretary Agni Deo Singh wants the 14,000 civil servants who are members of the public sector unions, to break the law.

Bainimarama says the Bill of Rights is clear and the unions have to follow the processes of negotiation and then a legitimate strike ballot before they can take strike action.

He stresses that everything should be done within the law

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