Postscript on the Air Pacific-Employment Decree Saga


Attorney-General and Minister of Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum released the following statement today:

“The call by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to boycott Fiji’s tourism and garment industry in response to the Essential National Industries Decree (July 2011) is absurd. The Decree does not apply to the garment industry, nor to the entire tourism industry—only to state-owned/state-backed enterprises and financial institutions.

“Yet, the ACTU is seeking to cripple the entire Fijian economy, a move that would severely affect the livelihoods of the very people it claims to be helping. Professional trade unionists, it seems, will stop at nothing to ensure their member dues keep coming in and that their high-salaried jobs are protected.

“What needs to be recognized is that the ACTU’s threat to hold the livelihoods of Fijians hostage is precisely the type of activity that the Decree seeks to curb in the first place.

“Fiji is a small country. Ours is a small economy. Our businesses are already incredibly dependent on outside forces. The Bainimarama Government only wants to ensure that the livelihoods of all Fijians are guaranteed, and not derailed by the greed of a few.

“When the system isn’t working, as stipulated by the Decree, employees of public enterprises and financial institutions—those deemed ‘essential’ to the continuation of life in Fiji—are fully empowered to represent themselves to redress grievances. In other cases, such as all other businesses in the private sector, the Decree does not apply.”


Yea yea said…
Try as he might he is not doing a very good job of explaining it. The attack on unionists and their high salaries just shows he is not prepared to argue the issue.

Since he raised the topic of high salaries can I ask how much you and the PM are paying yourselves ?
greed of a few said…
"the greed of a few"

...government ministers earning undisclosed sums for multiple portfolios ? Soldiers adding public sevant jobs and board appointment to boost income. PM awarding himself back pay.

We know all about the "greed of a few"
A Tactical Withdrawal while the Going is Good! said…
We are a small Island Nation and we cannot afford to be naive about Industrial Relations. Others much more adroit and well-versed in this extremely sensitive and demanding specialty have succeeded in curbing the errant power of runaway unions. In Fiji, it is most unlikely to be achieved without great damage to the entire, fragile economy and to our livelihoods. Why? Because the entire world ranged outside us is dedicated to our downfall and especially when a Southerly blows.

This is literally 'Dicing with Death'. Are we practised in IR? We must doubt it. This is one battle we can never win. Best make a tactical withdrawal now 'while the going is still good'.
Interpreter said…
...let me translate for those not fluent in AGism

"Look, everyone needs to understand this is a military dictatorship and we like to to have total control of everything. We pretend to be otherwise to the rest of the world but in the end we make all the decisions and there will be no debate or feedback. Therefore it is completely normal to ensure no union action in many industries. And completely normal to remove the pay (and therefore power) of thrid party union leaders, after all we can't lock them all up can we. Now go away, we are a small country and no one understands us. Oh and haven't you heard our mighty PM is presenting to an important telecommunications conference. How cool is that. Little us on the big stage again. yea yea yea...better go right him something to say.
today said…
So emploee's can still take action but not use the services of a professional union leader. I am OK with that as long as on the Air Pacific side they also agree not to take advise from lawyers, consultants, accountants etc and only the the CEO negotiate with each individual. Yea right. The balance looks wrong in this equation to me (and I'm no fan of Fiji trade unionism).

As to the AG's statement. Oh please you are not helping !
gammy son son gone some said…
This is all a bit depressing. Perhaps you could fly a NZ flag on the blog site and tell us all about the mood in NZ with the ABs winning the world cup. That will list our spirits for sure.
Anonymous said…
Don't expect an authoritarian regime to be democratic in its governance. Rights of people is one of the first casualties but curtailing the rights of a few for the greater good of the country should not be ignored. Have no sympathy for the trade unionists who go globe-trotting to enlist support to destroy the country with sanctions. Give freedom to these negative forces and they will use the ordinary members to go on strikes or take other disruptive measures with their evil rhetoric. Once trained, they enter politics and play a different game in the same provocative and aggressive way - Chodhry style - and create greater disharmony and disunity in the nation. Every govt since independence tried its best to control the trade unions and the media. Only difference is that this regime has taken them head on and it is painful!
no way to win said…

Its even more unfair than you are describing. Even if you do have union officials that are employed by the company, if they do anything the company does not like they will have you arrested, held for three days without facing a judge, make sure the judge is pressured to hold you without bail, then put out a press release discussing "facts" in the case (very dubious fatcs) before the trial even occurs.
Absolute clarity of thought and action without partiality! said…
@ "Oh please you are not helping.."

You are not helping nor are you qualified to help. That is more than evident. It is most especially evident to informed and intelligent taxpayers, to informed and intelligent pensioners, to informed and highly-trained pilots and engineers, to informed and intelligent business investors who have provided the Fiji economy with sustained employment in the face of perfidy, at times anarchy and now, yet again, folly.

Dr Nouriel Roubini (Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business) at the pre- CHOGM Business Forum has warned of a more than 50% chance now of a Global Recession which will go beyond developed nations. It will impinge and impact upon developing nations: that's us. Our sole pension fund is now being pillaged again for funds to prop up a failing airline which should have been either privatised or dispensed with years ago. National inflated ego kept it going. Dr Roubini was correct in 2008 - well ahead of other economists. So was George Soros, the Hungarian multi-billionaire investor/financier. Are they to be deemed wrong on the evidence? What makes us alone so full of unwarranted certitude that we compare ourselves to Singapore? Are we now not just foolish....but seemingly mad? Ideas are 'out there' for free. But it demands and requires good and proper judgement and sound analysis to capture and to apply them. In the application of other people's money, we have no business opting for a 'Free Fall' towards a Hard Landing. Professor Roubini now forecasts a likely hard landing even for China in 2012. A March of Folly has been underway in Fiji. A Long March was undertaken in China. We had better be very sure that all those who have benefitted themselves from the unbidden use of our money are in possession of "absolute clarity of thought and action" to keep us from slipping into yet another crisis which is compounded by the first. For this is ONE economic crisis which never went away. Some of us were fooled that it did.

"Absolute clarity of thought and action" is a quote attributed to The Hon PM of Australia Julia Gillard. Ideas are never to be treated with partiality. They should be taken seriously and then given a value. A failure to do so when Public Money is deployed is a failure and an abuse of office.
Dracon said…
Fiji's AG is playing with fire here. At a time when international tourism is under severe pressure due to a rather poor global economic climate, he risks Fiji being targeted by the international union movement. It is not unconceivable that the tourism industry will take a major hit when transport unions start campaigning in Fiji's major markets. No decree of his can stop these unions from speaking out and with an investment of 600 million US$ in new aircraft, the draconian Air Pacific decree could back fire in a major way.
UN Joint Economics Committees Meet said…
Want to add another voice to that of Professor Roubini and Dr Paul Krugman? How about Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University's School of International Affairs? (Nobel Laureate for Economics in 2001). He has just spoken to the first joint meeting of two important UN Economics Committees. We are told that in closing the Joint Meeting, ECOSOC President Lazarous Kapambwe, Zambia's Permanent Representative, called on the UN to take up the mantle of forging a global economic policy.

"Unfortunately, we are not seeing this in practice. Given the continuing risks and threats to the international economy, the United Nations must assert its global leadership role in coordinating international policy and in strengthening economic governance".

Both Committees will meet again on Thursday to hear a panel discussion on investing in productive capacity to promote job growth.

Hardly the action of people unconcerned about the real prospect of a coming global recession with all the distress that this will incur? Surely, we need to give due regard and weight to this array of voices in the field of serious economics? Unlike our own economists who have sold themselves out in some instances to 'partial' thinking? Thus leaving economic leadership in abeyance at a most crucial juncture.

Well done, Fiji Times! Making up now for lost time. As the jobs begin to ebb away, we shall remember you.

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