Fiji Workers United
Joining the union is seen as “something personal as each union member becomes a sister or brother to another member facing the same or similar challenges and there is comfort in knowing that workers can deal with these issues together in union,” according to Kuini Lutua, our project partner in Suva.
Thousands of Fijian workers have been educated about their rights and minimum wages enforced in a number of workplaces. Seven workplaces have been organised with members joining the National Union of Factory and Commercial Workers (NUFCW) and three new collective agreements established, lifting the wages and conditions of hundreds of workers.
These successes are due to Kuini Lutua’s efforts during UnionAID’s three year project with the NUFCW in Fiji. Although this project has now come to an end, the strong increases in union membership and activism by workers in Fiji’s precarious garment, manufacturing and wholesale sectors means they are now well placed to continue fighting for better wages and conditions.
Employers’ opposition to workers joining in union and bargaining for better conditions has been fierce at times. In some instances workers active in the union have had their pay reduced and in several cases workers were dismissed. The NUFCW has taken up these cases with the Ministry of Labour and before Christmas was successful in winning compensation and the right to return to work for 7 sacked workers at a bottling plant their previous roles. Other cases are ongoing