Feb 25, 2018 Last Updated 5:27 AM, Feb 19, 2018

Fiji unions triumph

Court favours airport workers’ plight

A bitter row between the management of Fiji’s Air Terminal Services (ATS) and its employees who were locked out of work for 35 days including Christmas and New Year ended last month with the court’s sympathy towards the workers. The Employment Relations Tribunal presided by Australian Andrew See ordered ATS management to allow the workers back to work and to pay them for the days they were locked out.

About 70 staff on shift on Saturday, 16 December left their stations to attend a three-hour shareholders meeting. When they returned to work, the gate was locked and the security had instructions from management not to let anyone back in.

ATS board chair Riyaz Khaiyum and CEO Hare Mani claimed the workers went on strike and instructed HR manager Richard Donaldson to issue suspension letters to over 300 workers, including those not at work that day and those on leave. If they wanted their jobs back, they were told to sign a letter admitting their action was illegal and they could be further reprimanded.

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Get your priorities right, FRU told

OLYMPIC-winning coach Ben Ryan has expressed serious reservations on Fiji’s bid to host a leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series, saying the Fiji Rugby Union has its priorities misplaced. Ryan, who was a guest at the Mana Whey Coral Coast Sevens last month, declined his support for the bid when FRU approached him in August 2017, while FRU hopes its bid will meet World Rugby requirements when it is submitted by the end of this month.

In a lengthy post on his Facebook page, Ryan said he was not prepared to back the bid because it would have a negative effect on the success of the sevens team on the world stage itself.

He said it was a waste of money and he had serious doubts about the viability of a regular tournament being held in the country. “The overseas consultants asked for a budget of F$1m (US$499,000) just to put together the bid. That’s hugely excessive and a massive waste of money. What are they spending it all on?

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Personalities will clash as Fijians prepare to go to the ballot

THE personality of Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama ensured that his Fiji First party won an outright majority in the 2014 polls, but that could change come this year.

The four years has given opposition parties an opportunity to strongly challenge Fiji First policies under the 2013 Constitution, which could not be done in an era when Fiji was without a parliament and government ruled by decrees.

2018 will also see the return of former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka to the political arena who is no doubt going to be very vocal against Bainimarama. There will be 51 seats to be contested with an expected 250 plus candidates to go on the ballot paper.

The three big names to watch out for in the 2018 elections will be Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First, Sitiveni Rabuka’s SODELPA and Dr Biman Prasad’s National Federation Party. The single constituency electoral system, which played nicely with Bainimarama in 2014 because of his popularity, will also be tested in 2018.

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ONE of Fiji’s newest political parties has not ruled out contesting Fiji’s general elections due to be held in 2018 in coalition with other parties that are opposed to the ruling Fiji First Party of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Unity Fiji is led by a former governor of Fiji’s reserve bank now economic consultant with international financial institutions, Savenaca Narube. Speaking exclusively to this magazine, Narube confirmed his party has been participating in talks with other parties, discussing many issues including fielding common candidates.

“But we are not in complete control of these discussions,” the former central bank governor added. If contesting the 2018 elections as a grand coalition could not be achieved, Narube said his party would be happy to consider revisiting the matter post elections.

The senior economist also spoke about the reasons he could not join existing parties currently forming the opposition in Fiji’s parliament, that of SODELPA and the National Federation Party.

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Fiji urged to reopen credit bureau

THE Fijian Government will need to improve its land lease processes if it has to create a business friendly environment for the private sector, says the International Monetary Fund. And the IMF projects that Fiji’s economy would grow by around 3.5 per cent in the coming year and would maintain that growth in the medium term.

Improving land lease processes is one of the few conditions the team from the IMF who were recently in Fiji suggested to government from their preliminary findings on their annual country surveillance.

Murphy said in order for the private sector to thrive which would in turn drive economic recovery, conditions must be put in place to improve the business environment. While Murphy and his team acknowledged the existing mechanisms to use land and several efforts by the Fiji Government to improve leases like the introduction of a land bank, they heard from the private sector that lease processes were lengthy and time consuming.

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