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September 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji's Government needs to take full responsibility for its decisions and should stop blaming others, says Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) national secretary, Felix Anthony.

He made the comment after Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said yesterday that the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and unionists in Fiji were putting their interests ahead of ordinary Fijians and were giving a false impression about the situation in the country.

Anthony said in a statement the government has realised the blunder it has made in expelling the ILO Contact Mission to Fiji.

"Within a day of the departure of the mission, the government issues a public statement inviting the mission back to Fiji but on conditions set by them."

"It has not told the public that the original terms of reference was actually drafted by the Ministry of Labour and agreed to including the organisations and persons that the mission was to meet," he said.

"The AG has seen it fit to again embark on a name calling of trade unionists and play the blame game to divert attention from the real issues. The ACTU has reacted to their (the government's) decision to expel the ILO Mission."

"The Government needs to  take full responsibility for its decisions and stop blaming others.

"The FTUC is not interested in playing politics on any issue or assist the regime in making excuses for its own failings.

"If the government as the AG claims is doing the right thing and respecting workers’ rights, it should have no difficulty in defending its position at the US Trade Hearings or at ILO."

"We ask the AG to address the issue of many workers who remain unemployed today through no fault of theirs, or those that remain under employed, or those that work on wages well below the poverty line, or those civil servants and employees in Government owned entities who have had a wage freeze for the past 6 years, or those 2000 plus workers who were forcibly retired at 55 without much notice or those pensioners who have to now live below the poverty line, or those destitute who have had their paltry allowances of $30 a month discontinued."

"Today we have in Fiji more workers unemployed and underemployed than ever in our history. Today we have more people living in poverty than we ever had before."

"These are some of the real issues that the AG should be addressing instead of name calling and blaming others."

Anthony said union leaders or the ACTU is not responsible for this. "These issues are a result of mismanagement by government and are real and about real people," he concluded.

The Attorney General yesterday stated that the the Fijian government has a policy of openness and transparency to outside scrutiny by organizations such as the International Labour Organisation.

He welcomed such visits as long as they are conducted by an independent delegation with no predetermined outcomes and a focused agenda.

By Reginald Chandar

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