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Workers' rights are protected: Usamate


Aug 07, 2018 01:20:49 PM

Workers' rights are protected: Usamate Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate says workers’ rights are protected and enhanced under the Employment Relations Act and the 2013 Constitution.

He made this comment while responding to media reports that workers’ rights in Fiji have been decimated.

Minister Usamate said that the Employment Relations Act is the collective commitment of workers, employers and Government in promoting the welfare and prosperity of all Fijian workers and employers through labour standards that are fair, eliminating discrimination in employment, encouraging good faith relations and social dialogue, and complying with international obligations.

He added that the Employment Relations Act has gone through extensive consultations including Parliamentary Committees, public consultations, and the former Labour Advisory Board which included workers, employers and Government representatives.

“The Act was adopted in 2007 following a tripartite consultation process and is the instrument that has brought about a commitment to much fairer employment practices.  It requires by law that employers and workers engage in good faith dialogue when dealing with each other and outlines the processes for parties to bargain collectively,” he said.

Minister Usamate explained that under these instruments, workers have the right to fair employment practices, the right to form or join a trade union and participate in its activities and programmes, and trade unions and employers have the right to bargain collectively.

“Workers’ rights are protected and have been continually enhanced.  This Government has introduced and increased the National Minimum Wage which is complemented by Government initiatives of free education, subsidized bus fare, free medicine, and subsidized electricity.”

“We have also increased maternity leave and introduced parental leave, family care leave and paternity leave and from next year the Workers’ Compensation Scheme will be a no-fault based scheme bringing social justice to ordinary Fijian workers,” Minister Usamate said.

He reiterated that Government has always encouraged and enforced the spirit of reconciliation and good faith as in the law and that any aspect of the law that needs to be aligned to international practices and conventions has been done through an amendment process.

“The Employment Relations Act has undergone amendments and will continue to do so through the Employment Relations Advisory Board which consists of a tripartite mechanism involving Government, workers’ representatives and employers’ representatives.”

“Currently, the Employment Relations Advisory Board has almost completed a further review of the Employment Relations Act using its tripartite mechanism,” he concluded.

By Mitieli Baleiwai



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