19th September 05:16 AM
Justice Anjala Wati strikes out case of FTU filed against Education Ministry
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 12/09/2018

High Court Judge Justice Anjala Wati has struck out the case of the Fiji Teachers Union filed against the Ministry of Education.

While delivering the strike out application ruling, Justice Wati said that in the final analysis, she finds that the Fiji Teachers Union’s claim is time barred under the Employment Relations Act in that the grievance was not filed within 21 days from the time it first arose.

The judge dismissed FTU’s claim and ordered it to pay $2,000 costs of the Ministry of Education.

The Ministry of Education had earlier filed a strike out application brought up by the Fiji Teachers Union in regards to the alleged breach of the employment contracts of its members.

This is in relation to the Job Evaluation Exercise.

Bhavna Narayan, who was representing the Ministry of Education, told the court that this relates to a trade dispute and under the Employment Relations Act 2007, the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

Narayan says that the case should be called before the Arbitration Court.                    

She told the High Court that during the consultations for the Job Evaluation Exercise, the union was consulted and the members who signed their contracts had said that they had done it voluntarily.

Narayan said the government is saying that since they have signed the new contracts under the Job Evaluation, the old contracts do not exist.

She also added that the application by the union is time barred.

Narayan also questioned whether it was a dispute of interest or rights.

While responding to the strike out application, FTU lawyer, Damodaran Nair had earlier said that in 2016 there was an amendment done to the Employment Relations Act which included the government workers in the act and the court can hear the case.

Nair said the union has brought the case of dispute of rights of its members collectively adding that the Union was never consulted. He also said that they have met the time limit.       

When contacted yesterday, FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh says they will not appeal the ruling, and will file their case in the Arbitration Court today.

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