News and Editor's Comments Monday 25.7.11
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Monday 25 JulyFIJI v. ALL BLACKS. It's commendable but ironic that Fiji, with its struggling economy and high levels of unemployment and poverty — made that much worse by NZ policies — played a charity match to raise money for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal on Friday. Fiji lost 14 to 60, with the last two NZ tries questionable. A good result from the skilled and gutsy underdog. If Minister McCully was watching, we know which team he would be supporting, but I wonder whether he also saw the irony.
GOVERNMENT FINGERS MORE UNION DEALINGS. I think Government should address the FCTU concerns about the proposed Employment Relations Decree and buturaki but it is difficult to support Anthony's requests to Australian and NZ unions (who know only what Anthony chose to tell them) for action against Jetstar and Air Pacific. Government's response has been to reveal details of the salaries and perks of some professional union leaders.
The latest states that unions collect a massive $3.5 million a year in subscription fees from members. The major unions — Fiji Sugar and General Workers, Fiji Public Service Association, National Union of Hotel and Catering Workers, National Transport Workers Union, teachers, nurses and farmers unions — have a total of about 30,000 members who pay weekly subs averaging $5. No tax is levied on the fees. Many union leaders, on salaries of over $100,000, also enjoy allowances for housing, travel, subsistence, entertainment, and car fuel.
Veteran unionist Kamlesh Arya is calling for the review of union leadership following the decision by some union leaders to invite international sanctions against Fiji. He said they did not have their members’ mandate. Government's exposure of this situation is overdue but it still needs to address the legitimate concerns of the unionists.
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN. Women's Ministry director Salote Radrodro said Fiji is on track efforts to comply with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). "Many other Pacific nations still have to report and have constructive dialogue. We have just completed a short-term report on the Constitution and electoral reform process which was one of the three key priorities we were asked to complete by this month," she said.
Minister Dr Luveni said the CEDAW committee in New York had welcomed Fiji's new Domestic Violence and Child Welfare decrees,the Women's Plan of Action (which addresses the State's commitment to the empowerment of women) and the Government's decision to construct women's centres in provinces and semi-urban settlements.