Bargaining Wins in Suva
Fijian workers now know that employers do not have the right to fire them at will, and that dialogue with employers can effect change. In some factories, dirty working areas have been cleaned up, separate eating spaces allocated, and health and safety equipment provided. Workers at SeaQuest have joined in union and successfully bargained for better working hours and sufficient rest between shifts, and a 5% pay rise. After a lengthy struggle workers at a bottling plant in Suva were also able to join in union and take legal action to get over $1,000 in back pay for overtime work.
These astounding successes have been achieved because Kuini Lutua, our project partner in Suva, and the union organiser, Jolame Vosa, have been busy educating factory workers about their legal rights. On the other hand, the jobs of seven workers who joined the union were terminated. One of these took his case directly to the Ministry of Labour and won full compensation for ‘unlawful termination’. It is expected that the remaining six will also be successful.